The Expo, opening Friday as a means of showcasing Italian food, culture and technology to the world, was accompanied by over 30,000 protesters in the streets of Milan. Expo opponents, among them anti-austerity activists, environmentalists and anti-globalists, see the event as a showcase of waste and corruption.
- A man is helped to save his car set on fire by protesters during a rally against Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy, May 1© REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini
- Masked activists march as clashes broke out with police during a protest against the Expo 2015 fair in Milan, Italy, Friday, May 1, 2015© AP Photo / Riccardo De Luca
- A demonstrators kicks a teargas canister as clashes broke out with Italian Policemen during a protest against the Expo 2015 fair in Milan, Italy, Friday, May 1, 2015© AP Photo / Luca Bruno
- Protesters throw bottles and flares during a rally against Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy, May 1, 2015© REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini
- A protester on a wheelchair goes through clothes used by protesters and left on the ground during a rally against Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy, May 1, 2015© REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini
The protests took a nasty turn as stone-throwing masked protesters separate from the main group began smashing windows, torching trash bins and setting fire to several parked cars.
With thousands of police already deployed in the lead up to the event, riot police responded by firing tear gas into the crowd, while using water cannons to put out fires.
Anti-Expo campaigners have been bolstered by Italy's dragging recession and catastrophic youth unemployment rate of over 40 percent. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi stated that the Expo could assist in the country's economic recovery, serving as a test for Italy's economic future. But the opening of the Expo itself has been marred by organizational and corruption issues, with the protests and violence looking only to worsen the event's fragile reputation.