A handful of protesters at the main gate of the Naval Support Activity Naples Support Site were arrested Thursday morning by Italian authorities for blocking the entrance to the military installation, according to base officials.

“It is legal for protesters to gather, pass out flyers, hold up banners,” wrote base commander Capt. Floyd Hehe in an e-mail to base personnel. “However, it is not legal to block access to military bases, and the local authorities are standing by to ensure the flow of base traffic is not impeded.

“Just today, some protesters who did not comply with local authorities to move out of the way of base traffic were arrested,” he wrote.

Hehe asked base residents to remain patient with the protesters, who have at times ranged up to a few dozen in number. They’ve been protesting since the loss of their jobs as cleaners at the base Navy Lodge on March 1.

The cleaners were replaced after the facility’s cleaning contract was taken over by a new company, which then brought in its own workers. The protesters say that the new company had a legal obligation to hire the existing workers, and they have been protesting ever since.

Since March 1, their protests have forced base schools to close for a day and to open late on at least two other occasions. Traffic disruptions included the closure of a highway off-ramp near the base by Italian authorities.

Hehe wrote that base personnel should continue to expect delays. Another all hands e-mail included an aerial map of the base and surrounding area marked with different routes to the gates.

The former workers had told Stars and Stripes they would continue their protests until they were rehired, but had been relatively quiet since they completely shut down the base for hours at a time on March 6.

After the shut down, base residents were told that the protesters would no longer be allowed to block the base’s gates.

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