NAPLES, Italy — U.S. Navy officials in Naples are warning motorists to expect possible commuting delays to the Capodichino base if demonstrators opposed to expansion of the Dal Molin airfield picket the installation.
An activist group called Cento donne cento bici (100 women 100 bikes) intends to visit several U.S. military bases in Italy to deliver a letter of protest to the installations’ commanding officers, said Scott Campbell, a spokesman for Navy Region Europe.
On May 19, the protesters visited the U.S. Navy base in Sicily without incident, he said. The four-woman group biked to Naval Air Station Sigonella II to deliver its mission statement, accepted by Italian carabinieri who had gathered at the base gates in preparation for a possible demonstration. The women handed a typewritten statement and left without causing any problems, Campbell said.
Officials don’t know whether to expect the same on Monday, Campbell said.
For the past two years, the four women have protested the controversial U.S. expansion plans for Dal Molin airfield in northern Italy, according to the statement delivered in Sigonella, and provided to Stars and Stripes by public affairs.
The group has pledged to conduct nonviolent protests of U.S. installations and is seeking to expand the movement by calling on women in various Italian cities to join them in finding peaceful alternatives to militarization.
They are traveling on bikes in hopes of garnering attention, meeting more of the public and eliciting support, the statement reads.
Navy officials Friday cautioned all personnel to avoid confrontation with any activists and to be prepared to use alternate routes to and from the bases, according to an e-mail the officials sent out. Base security will divert traffic if necessary.
Additional updates will be provided on the AFN Europe Web site, http://www.afneurope.net/. The information can be found in a moving scroll at the top of the site.
Traffic delays might be eased because Monday is an Italian holiday, Festa della Repubblica, or Republic Day. It marks the 1946 referendum in which the Italians chose a republic form of government over a monarchy.