Report. The day began with two girls chained to the gates of the rectory, and ended with two protesters arrested (one for damaging a police car, the other for assaulting an officer).

Students protesting science funding to Israel attacked by police

Police mounted a charge against the march of the students at La Sapienza University in Rome, who have been mobilizing for weeks, as in other universities, against research agreements between the university and the war industry and for an end to new projects involving collaboration with Israel. The police forces came in with arms raised and the batons were used with abandon, as in Pisa, Naples, Milan.

This is the response to every protest, invariably followed by accusations from the government majority, delivered on Tuesday by Meloni herself: “We fully condemn the violence in Rome. Destruction, attacks, clashes, assaults on the Rectorate and Commissariat, with an official being punched. This is thuggery.” But those who took part in the march replied: “It was the police who charged us.”

The day began with two girls chained to the gates of the rectory, and ended with two protesters arrested (one for damaging a police car, the other for assaulting an officer), several injuries and the reactions by Ministers Piantedosi and Bernini, who, with the entire center-right, including Senate President La Russa and Renzi, blamed the protesters, describing the events as “a shame.”

The two protesters arrested, a young man and woman, were to be tried in an expedited proceeding on Wednesday morning. The mobilization of the collectives had begun as early as Monday, when they camped in their tents inside the campus, and ended with an attempt to enter the campus after the academic senate’s decision on the proposal to suspend scientific cooperation with a country waging war.

According to the students, faculty, researchers and administrative staff who protested on Wednesday, the text adopted by the Senate was excessively cautious and marked by both-sides-ism. The text expressed “sorrow and horror at the military escalation and the resulting humanitarian crisis taking place in Palestine” but at the same time reiterated the rejection of any form of boycott of scientific collaboration. It says that La Sapienza University “rejects the idea that boycotting scientific collaboration, giving up the freedom of teaching and research, and denying the responsibility of each individual researcher, can promote peace.”

The protesters, numbering around 300 people, accused Rector Antonella Polimeni of avoiding a real dialogue and refusing to resign from the Med’Or foundation. The protesters called for a discussion of the appeal signed by 2,500 students, researchers, administrators and 150 faculty members at the university, calling for the suspension of agreements with Israeli universities: “We call for the suspension, not the cancellation, of these agreements,” the La Sapienza Coordinating Committee for Palestine explained, “and we completely reject any notion of racism and anti-Semitism.”

See the photo-reportage of the protest at La Sapienza

Meanwhile, in Turin, at the Scuola Normale in Pisa and in Bari, the Academic Senates of the universities voted not to join the Foreign Ministry’s controversial call for collaboration with Israeli universities, while the Universita Statale of Milan suspended its collaboration agreement with the Israeli Ariel University in the West Bank. After a few tense moments in front of the rectory, the students left the campus to head to the San Lorenzo police station, but were reportedly blocked by police at Viale Regina Elena.

“The Academic Senate’s decision condemns the massacre and calls for a cease-fire, but this is only to wash its hands: not a word about the agreements, no intention to stop the complicity with genocide,” the coordination of the collectives at the protest wrote on social media in the evening. “The response to our demands is shameful, and the police charges are shameful. The university is willing to mount charges against its students rather than listen to the demands of thousands of students, researchers and faculty.”

The Conference of Rectors (CRUI) announced its “serious concern” at the news of new clashes at La Sapienza.” “Violence is never acceptable,” said Giovanna Iannantuoni, president of CRUI. “It is unacceptable when it attempts to force a decision taken democratically by a university body.”

(with the contribution of Silvia Scipioni)

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