There's been an unprecedented clash between extreme left-wingers and members of the relatively moderate Communist party in Italy.
There's been an unprecedented clash between extreme left-wingers and members of the relatively moderate Communist party in Italy. With both factions seeking to gain control of Rome University. More than 20 students were injured in the fighting between the two sides on the University campus on Thursday (17 February).
SYNOPSIS: The violence began when the Communist membership of the University called in a leading trade unionist, Lacuna Lama, to address extreme left-wing students who had seized control of the campus fifteen days earlier in protest against planned government reforms. Signor Lama, often called one of the most powerful men in Italy, urged a mass gathering of students to return to their classes.
Italy's Communist Party, which dominates the trades union movement, is one of the mainstay's of the fragile minority Government of the Christian Democrat Party led by Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. The Communists made massive gains in the last general elections, and so far have only allowed the Christian Democrats to govern by voting with them in Parliament.
But the influence of the Italian Communists, one of the most moderate in Europe, did not appear to have much influence with the minority of the Rome University students. As Signor Lama was speaking, he was shouted down and violence erupted when a youth turned a fire extinguisher on part of the crowd. Signor Lama was Smuggled out of a rear exist after some students stoned the truck which he was using as a platform for his appeal. They also forced hundreds of Communist supporters to leave, and barricaded the main gate with cars. The injured, many bleeding from head wounds were taken to nearby clinics in ambulances. Slogans on walls in the campus denounced Lama as 'a pig', and after the battle both sides continued chanting slogans and hurling cobblestones. Hundreds of riot police stood outside, but did not intervene.