ROME — Romans woke up Tuesday morning to find an effigy of Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg hanging from one of their bridges with a sign in English saying: “Greta is your God.”
Dressed in a yellow poncho, the effigy had the 16-year-old’s trademark pigtail braids and was strung up under a bridge in the southwest of the city.
A group calling itself “Gli Svegli” (The Awake) has claimed responsibility.
“We hanged Greta Thunberg in Rome. The effigy has her face and even her braids. Other actions will follow,” the group announced on social media along with an accompanying photo of the effigy.
Following the posting, Rome police initiated an investigation into the act, classifying the social media post as an “aggravated threat.”
Italy’s environmental minister, Sergio Costa, called the action “criminal.”
“The effigy found hung under a Rome bridge offends and wrongs Greta Thunberg. Each of us, every citizen committed to the climate and the planet, and not only, should feel struck. This is an unacceptable and criminal act, which will find us all the more united in our position,” he posted on Twitter.
“Shameful the mannequin of Greta Thunberg found hanging on a bridge in our city,” tweeted Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi. “My solidarity and that of all Rome to her and her family. Our commitment to the climate will not be stopped.”
In a statement, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said that the effigy represented “an incitement to hatred,” adding that “not only is it a macabre, vulgar vision, but it shows once more that those who are unable to contradict with facts and arguments the movement of young people committed in the battle against the climate crisis have recourse instead to violence and intimidation.”