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Italian police beating of pro-Palestine schoolchildren sparks outrage

Clashes between police and protesters take place during a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside RAI (Italian radio-television) headquarters in Naples, Southern Italy on February 13, 2024 (File photo by Anadolu)

A viral footage of pro-Palestinian schoolchildren being beaten by police has drawn condemnations in Italy, with the opposition calling for the interior minister to address the issue in the parliament.

The video shows armored and geared police officers dispersing the students out of an alley in Pisa and unleashing horrific baton charging over unarmed school-aged students, many of whom were minors, sources said.

According to reports, the students had gathered to organize a peaceful protest against Israel and demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. They were on their way to central locations in the Tuscan cities of Pisa and Florence.

“Is this how you beat your own children,” one young woman was heard shouting.

The teachers at Pisa’s Russoli High School, situated near the alley where the “beatings” took place, eye-witnessed the incident and said that they were “stunned” at how the authorities treated the young kids.

“We have witnessed scenes of shocking violence with the police not even negotiating with the students or trying to talk to them,” teachers wrote in an open letter posted on social media.

“We found boys and girls from our classes trembling and shocked … from the beatings they received,” the teachers said in a statement, demanding that someone be held responsible for the “shameful day.”

The demonstrators in Florence, the capital of Tuscany, intended to hold a protest outside the US consulate but law enforcement authorities stopped them at a central square in the city of the Leaning Tower, leading to confrontations and casualties.

In a video published by Italian news agency ANSA, a student alleged that many of the participating students sustained head injuries.

Elly Schlein, the leader of the center-left Democratic Party, posted on a social media platform, the video of the “unacceptable” scenes of “students trapped in an alleyway, charged and beaten by the police.”

“Under Italy’s neo-fascist government, a peaceful protest demanding a ceasefire in Gaza unleashed horrific police violence against a group of students, many of whom are minors,” she wrote.

Schlein further blamed prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government for the atmosphere Italy is witnessing.

The former prime minister and the leader of the left-leaning 5-Star Movement, Giuseppe Conte, said the images were “worrying” and “not worthy of our country.”

“Once again people protesting against the ongoing massacre in Gaza were hit by police,” Conte, said on a social media platform, posting footage of the clashes in Pisa.

“These are worrying images, not worthy of our country. This cannot be the response of our state to dissent,” he added.

Enzo Letizia, the leader of ANFP, a police trade union, emphasized that student protests frequently attract “expert instigators” and cautioned against passing judgments until a thorough investigation into the incidents has been conducted.

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