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Parties continue to spar over police baton charges

Parties continue to spar over police baton charges

Salvini says hands off cops, Schlein says pres said it all

ROME, 25 February 2024, 15:48

ANSA English Desk


Corteo pro Palestina a Pisa, manifestanti caricati - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Corteo pro Palestina a Pisa, manifestanti caricati -     ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Corteo pro Palestina a Pisa, manifestanti caricati - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Italian political parties continued to spar Sunday over the allegedly heavy handed policing of a peaceful pro-Palestinian student demonstration in Pisa Friday.
    Rightwing League leader Matteo Salvini said "hands off the police" and members of Premier Giorgia Meloni's rightwing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party attacked the students for "provoking" the police by trying to reach the university campus in the Tuscan city.
    But the centre-left opposition condemned the clashes after video footage emerged showing some officers repeatedly hitting pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the head.
    Centre-left and leftwing officials slammed the "serious" alleged policing failures and Democratic Party (PD) leader Elly Schlein, leader of the biggest opposition party, said President Sergio Mattarella had "said it all" in saying Saturday that authority was not conferred by batons" and their use had "failed the young".
    Schlein and others also continued to demand that Meloni speak out about the incidents after the president did so.
    Salvini again defended the police saying "it is right to make analyses to see if (the police) did what they had to do, or if someone went too far, but they are women and men, not robots, and they should not be drawn into a political row." Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi told Sunday's edition of the Corriere della Sera newspaper that the rules on the management of public order have not changed, and he will not shy away from an assessment of what happened.
    And to those who ask him to report to parliament, he said he is "available, but no to discussions to discredit the government or the police force." Mattarella said Saturday that the authoritativeness of the State cannot be measured by batons, after speaking with Piantedosi on the events in Pisa.
    "The President of the Republic reminded the Interior Minister, finding his agreement (on the subject), that the authoritativeness of the police forces cannot be measured 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".
    Asked to respond on Sunday, Salvini, who is also deputy premier and transport minister, said: "The president's words can be read but not commented on".
    Then, pressed, he added: "Of course it is always better that there are no clashes.
    "Policemen and Carabinieri are daily victims of physical and verbal violence.
    "Even in that square. If my son went and shouted 'cop asshole' then he would have to deal with me.
    Salvini said "anyone who puts his hands on a policeman or a Carabiniere is a delinquent".
    Schlein responded by saying that Meloni's silence on the eposide showed she had "no sense of the institutions.
    "I would like the centre right exponents to break their silence on the events in Pisa," said the PD chief.
    "And that Giorgia Meloni should do so above all, she who is demonstrating that she has no sense of the institutions.
    "Let her stop hiding behind her ministers and come to report directly to parliament on what happened".
    She continued: "It's time for the premier to say something about what happened and about the management of public order on the occasion of the very serious episodes that happened in Pisa, with the baton-charging of students by police but also other similar episodes that occurred previously.
    "It's not the first time, sadly, that we are witnessing actions of this kind".
    Another opposition leader, Green Europe co-spokesman Angelo Bonelli, said: "Giorgia Meloni continues in her silence regarding the use of truncheons by the police on the students in Pisa, even after the stance adopted by President Sergio Mattarella .
    "But she expresses herself through the words of her FdI coordinator, Giovanni Donzelli, who attacks the demonstrators instead of listening to those asking for more wisdom and dialogue as an alternative to the use of batons, as suggested by the president's appeal".
    Friday also saw baton charges on another pro-Palestinian demo in Tuscany, in Florence, but no footage emerged of officers hitting students on the head there.


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