(Reuters) – Students clashed with Italian police in widespread protests on Friday against austerity measures imposed by Prime minister Mario Monti’s government. Thousands of university and high school students marched in major cities, including Rome, Milan and Naples, chanting slogans and carrying banners such as “Save schools not banks”.
The protests were the latest in a string of strikes and large-scale street protests against Monti’s spending cuts and economic reforms. “The protest is to renew the political class, to get rid of those who are corrupt,” said Giulio Bianco, 18. “The politicians make the ordinary people pay. These are heavy sacrifices, and it is a risky policy to keep imposing them,” the high school student from Rome said.
Up to six policemen were wounded in Rome, police said, after students wearing motorcycle helmets and carrying home-made shields pelted them with stones and tried to rush a police van before being driven back in a baton charge. TV pictures from Bologna showed students throwing eggs at a branch of UniCredit bank and trampling on a BNP Paribas flag, while in Palermo protesters burnt copies of political manifestos. Young people have borne the brunt of rising joblessness in Italy, where the youth unemployment rate is 35 percent, more than three times the overall level. “We are worried about our prospects and about the future of our country,” Madalina Ursu, 19, told Reuters.