COVID-19: from Italy a (bad) lesson on public order

As I have written since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, the management of public order and security is just as important as the health aspects. It is essential to prevent the pressure on citizens from quarantine, fear of the economic consequences of the crisis and the obsessive hammering of random numbers in the media from triggering riots.

The first signs sparkled at the beginning of the crisis with the frantic race to hoard food and foodstuffs. Now the “quantum leap” is the direct and group assault on supermarkets openly organized via social networks happened in Palermo, Sicily.

Whether the perpetrators of the raid are truly desperate or vulgar profiteers matters little, as their action can be the spark that could set the whole country on fire. As a preemptive measure, then, the perpetrators of the raid should be tried and sentenced immediately and to very harsh penalties. On the other hand, the Ministry of the Interior should timely exercise its powers to prevent the occurrence of such actions, dissuade those who mature “bad thoughts” and, above all, make sure to meet the minimum survival needs of the weakest subjects, to lower the social tension.

These measures do not require “special laws” or new emergency decrees. The Prefects, at a local level, already have the power to adopt specific orders to guarantee public order and security, while if the disturbances were to spread to a national level, the Minister of the Interior could declare a state of “public danger”.

The harsh lesson of delays in adopting social distancing measures, administered with the eyedropper and full of contradictions, teaches that one cannot wait for the situation to degenerate before deciding to act.
If the Palermo’s riots should extend to the whole of Italy, we face the war of all against all, which means that only one law rules: the strong wins.

And it is not for sure that the State woudl be the one.

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