Police with batons drawn at pro-Palestine rally

Police use of batons on Friday splits Italian politics


During pro-Palestine demonstrations in Pisa and Florence on Friday, police resorted to force. Footage shows police beating protestors over the head with batons.

Italy’s association of university deans CRUI on Saturday said it was concerned about Friday’s allegedly heavy-handed policing of student demonstrations in Florence and Pisa. The organisation said the right to demonstrate must be preserved.

CRUI said it “observes with concern what is happening in several Italian cities”, and stressed “the constant commitment of universities to favour peaceful dialogue and the co-existence of opposing theses, which is the very nature of scientific research as an academic mission”.

The deans concluded by saying that “the right to demonstrate represents one of the most important conquests in the history of western democracy and as such it must be guaranteed and preserved”.

Many students were among the pro-Palestinian demonstrators baton-charged by police in the two Tuscan cities on Friday. Video footage showa some officers repeatedly hitting protesters over the head with their truncheons.

Trade Union wades into debate

Maurio Landini, leader of Italy’s biggest and most leftwing trade union CGIL, on Saturday condemned the policing of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Italian centre-left parties have already condemned the allegedly heavy-handed policing, which happened when officers baton-charged protesters after they tried to break through cordons and reach the US consulates in the two Tuscan cities.

“In these hours we have asked the minister of the interior to convene a meeting with the trade unions because we think that what has happened in Pisa and in other cities is serious, is absolutely not acceptable and the right to demonstrate must be a right guaranteed to everyone,” said Landini at the flashmob on the Campidoglio (Capitol) in Rome to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“When this does not happen you are questioning the democracy of this country. I think that especially today the focus should not be against those demonstrators and against the right of those who demonstrate.”

Italy’s President says authority should not be measured by batons

The authoritativeness of the State cannot be measured by batons, President Sergio Mattarella said Saturday after speaking with Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi about Friday’s events.

“The President of the Republic reminded the Interior Minister, finding his agreement (on the subject), that the authoritativeness of the police forces cannot be measures by batons but by the capacity to ensure security while safeguarding, at the same time, the freedom to publicly express opinions,” said a note from the presidential Quirinale Palace.

“Truncheons express failure with young people”.

The right-wing parties blame the left for violence

The Italian Left is backing violent people to cause unrest as seen at recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations Brothers of Italy (FdI) party said Saturday.

“Brothers of Italy defends the democratic rules of coexistence that are based on the right to demonstrate and the duty to do so peacefully and within the law,” it said.

“The left that supports the violent is the cause of the riots we witnessed”.

Deputy Premier, centre-right Forza Italia (FI) leader Antonio Tajani said that Interior Minister Mattei Piantedosi may assess individual responsibility for Friday’s baton charges by police but the police as a whole “cannot be touched”.

Speaking after President Sergio Mattarella spoke out about the policing, Tajani said the police “are people who defend the State with low salaries, they aren’t the children of the radical chic”.

He told an FI congress, to loud applause, that “responsibility is personal and I say hands off the police”.

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