After the wonderful concert on Thursday evening in Piazza Duomo and a spectacular opening ceremony for Expo on Friday morning, Milan was filled with hope and happiness! There was definitely a sense of triumph and pride that finally Expo was here and a fun party atmosphere! However this was to be short lived, as Friday afternoon protesters took to the streets of Milan and whilst some were there as peaceful protesters, others were there to riot and quickly it turned into guerilla warfare.
The left-wing protesters, who came not only from Italy but other European countries too, included anti-globalization and environmentalist activists as well as students and anti-austerity campaigners. Many of whom see Expo as a symbol of corruption (there have been accusations of Mafia involvement) and waste.
Whilst I sympathise with some of their ideas, I cannot accept violence as a form of protest and yesterday evening the city was in a state of shock and the sense of hope had been replaced by anger and sadness. They set fire to cars, broke bank and shop windows and defaced many buildings throughout the city. To make matters worse, when interviewed some of these so called ‘protesters’, seemed unable to string a sentence together to defend or rationalise their actions, but instead stated it had been a great experience.
But today, as the sun shone brightly there has been an immense clean-up effort and a new sense that Milan will not be defeated and the people of Milan will take back their city! In fact a ‘meeting’ in Piazza Cadorna (where a lot of the worst damage happened) has been arranged for Sunday afternoon with the hashtag #NessunotocchiMilano #NoonetouchesMilan. The people of Milan will gather to show support for the city and Expo and help in the cleaning up effort! The facebook group already has more than 9000 likes. There is definitely a sense of community here today and I feel proud and thankful for all the people who are working and volunteering to help revive the city!