A remarkable video shows Italian riot police removing their helmets in solidarity with anti-EU demonstrators in Turin who are protesting against the state of the economy, the single currency and fuel prices.
The demonstrators are an eclectic amalgamation of Italians, from truckers to students. The origin of the protests stems from the ‘Pitchfork Movement’, which began as a group of Sicilian farmers pushing for government reforms but grew into a nationwide revolt against banks, the Italian tax collection agency Equitalia, the European Union, and the Socialist-backed minority government, which is moving to privatize higher education.
“Many share the protesters’ anger and at one point police officers in Turin took off their helmets, in a show of solidarity,” reports Euronews. “We farmers are on the streets to say ‘Enough!’ to the state, the government, the unions. We just can’t manage anymore,” Giorgio Bissoli, spokesman for the Azione Rurale protest group in the Veneto region told Canale 5 television, adding, “Our main priority is that they all have to go!”
Discontent over fuel prices, globalization and the European Union’s draconian austerity measures are also expected to lead to a huge anti-EU backlash in next year’s European parliamentary elections.
According to a flyer being handed out by the protesters, they represent, “the unemployed, casual workers, pensioners, workers in every sector, students, mothers and fathers,” who see it as their duty “to throw out the criminals who hold power.”
The movement doesn’t appear to have any partisan political identity and represents a populist uprising against policies that have devastated Italy’s economy. Italian youth unemployment is over 40 per cent as the country remains embroiled in a deep recession. A staggering 134 retail outlets in Italy are closed every day and business failures are up 10 per cent since last year alone.
Police removing their riot gear and joining with protesters is slowly turning into a refreshing social trend. Last week, Thai police who were ordered to harass demonstrators chose instead to lay down their shields and helmets.
On a historical scale, police joining in solidarity with demonstrators is often a pre-cursor to massive social change, such as before the fall of the Berlin Wall or the removal of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.