Renzi vows L’Aquila will be rebuilt amid protests

Hundreds of people from the Abruzzo region gathered in L’Aquila on Tuesday evening to protest against premier Matteo Renzi’s visit to the city, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2009.

Renzi vows L'Aquila will be rebuilt amid protests
L'Aquila's rebuild since the devastating earthquake in 2009 has languished. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Clashes between police and protesters forced the cancellation of the first part of Renzi’s visit to Palazzo Fibbioni, the city’s new council headquarters, Il Messaggero reported.

But he managed to fulfill the second stage of the visit to the Gran Sasso Science Institute, despite tensions nearby.

An estimated 500 people filled the streets to protest against the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which is set to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe and will cross a seismic area in the Abruzzo city of Sulmona.

Protesters held banners saying “Renzi, Renzi, get out of Abruzzo”, “we don’t want the drilling” and “we don’t want the pipeline”.  

Four people, including a police officer, were reportedly injured in the clashes.

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake in April 2009 left 309 dead and L’Aquila and the surrounding area devastated.

Many buildings in the city still lie in ruins, despite hundreds of millions of euros allocated to reconstruction.

Renzi on Tuesday pledged that the “money is there” for the languishing rebuild and that he will return in a year to “check the sites”.

“The priority is the old town,” he added.

It was Renzi's first visit to the city as premier.

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.