Reactions mixed to banning Rome demos threat

CGIL calls it anti-democratic, police unions in favor

(ANSA) - Rome, April 18 - Reactions were mixed Friday after Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said he will ''forbid access (to) Rome's centre'' if demonstrations and riots continue to plague the capital.
    Alfano did not elaborate on his remark, made as an aside as he briefed the Lower House on illegal immigration to Italy.
    The government has come under mounting criticism recently due to incidents of alleged police brutality against demonstrators in an April 12 protest against housing shortages in the capital. An undercover police officer is facing an investigation after he admitted trampling a young woman during the protest.
    Another officer was caught on film kicking a young man who was lying on the ground.
    Police fired tear gas at hooded demonstrators who flung eggs, firecrackers and stones, injuring some 20 officers, according to authorities.
    Banning demonstrations in Rome's city center is "antidemocratic and wrong," said leading leftist CGIL trade confederation, which also condemned violence within demonstrations. New Center Right (NCD) MP Fabrizio Cicchitto said Alfano's words were "sacrosanct in a situation where the city is being taken over not by peaceful demonstrations but by urban guerrilla warfare".
    SAP police union praised Alfano's stance.
    "Police officers risk their lives to guarantee security to citizens, especially to the poor, and they are committed to ensuring the right to freely demonstrate and express dissent," said SAP president Gianni Tonelli.