Residents of Verona have flooded the streets of the northern Italian city to reiterate calls for independence and demand the release of 24 activists arrested earlier on suspicion of plotting to take over Venice's main square with an improvised tank.
Protesters blew whistles, set off air horns, and waved flags of the Veneto region en mass at the demonstration, while detonating smoke bombs in the region's signature red and yellow colors. The rally, which was staged in Piazza dei Signori – Verona’s downtown – was also held with the aim of freeing Veneto State from the clutches of the mafia.
“The jails are made for criminals and the mafia, not for the fathers and mothers of families,” federal secretary of Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini, told the crowd. He reiterated the pacifist nature of the event in Verona. “We are here to defend the freedom of thought and speech. The choice of the league is a non-violent choice.”
“It will be a march of freedom, a human chain of smiles,” Salvini stated prior to the event.