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Capital sent in tilt by anti-austerity demonstrations

Rome mayor blasts government for chaos surrounding protests

14 November, 19:47
Capital sent in tilt by anti-austerity demonstrations (ANSA) - Rome, November 14 - Protesters in Italy's capital clashed with police as demonstrations against rising unemployment and austerity measures gripped the city, sending traffic into tilt and closing down Rome's principle thoroughfares.

Demonstrators from Italy's powerful CGIL labor confederation, joined by student protesters and other fringe groups ran riot among stand-still traffic on Rome's Lungotevere road that runs alongside the Tiber river, throwing firecrackers, bottles, pulling down street signs and causing panic, police said.

Police also clashed with hardline protesters near Rome's Synagogue as demonstrators hurled rocks and police fired teargas. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno blasted the Italian government Wednesday over the chaos surrounding strikes and protests in his city, which at one point included a stream of demonstrators being directed into the city's Jewish Ghetto quarter, the oldest of its kind in the world. "I wonder what else needs to happen to get the government and public security authorities to implement real regulations for demonstrations in the capital of Italy," he said. "You cannot continue on this path that threatens to overwhelm the life of our city. Police said that the rally, which included a high number of frightened minors, was diverted away from clashes and into the nearby Ghetto, passing in front of the Synagogue. The president of Rome's Jewish community, Riccardo Pacifici, said the maneuver "created panic", prompting teachers to lock the doors to Hebrew schools as lessons were ongoing. "When a rally passes in front of the Synagogue, unfortunately it prompts a certain reflex," said Pacifici. "We understand the reasons for the rally, but what does it have to do with us"? Armoured vans and jeeps were used to disperse crowds in Rome and approximately 50 protesters have been detained by police.

Senior police officer and Rome prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro said that protests and clashes in the country's capital on Wednesday could have caused much more damage and ended with more injuries if not for the efforts of the police force.

"It was a difficult day, but it could have been worse," Pecoraro said.

Students and laborers were protesting in over 100 separate rallies organized across the country, while countless more were staged across the EU after the European Trade Union Confederation called on citizens to walk out on the job Wednesday.

Two police officers were sent to the emergency room in Padua after large firecrackers exploded during clashes with protesters.

One officer, injured more seriously than the other, suffered lacerations to the leg, while the other passed out from the explosion. Their condition was not released. CGIL chief Susanna Camusso on Wednesday blasted the austerity policies pursued by Italian Premier Mario Monti's government as disastrous on the continent-wide European Day of Action and Solidarity.

"The Monti government is now a year old and it has been a year of disasters and of no answers to the world of work," said Camusso, whose union confederation, Italy's biggest, led anti-austerity protests. "It's a year that has removed confidence and hope from the young people of the country," she added.

"Don't keep telling us there's light at the end of the tunnel. The truth is needed". A policemen is badly injured after being attacked by youths wielding clubs and baseball bats during protests in Turin on Wednesday.

The officer was surrounded by around 20 young people outside the offices of the provincial government in the city and the blows he received to the head were so violent his helmet broke.

He was also said to have a broken arm and was taken to the city's Mauriziano hospital.

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