Italy’s populist deputy Prime Minister has rallied to the defence of police officers who were hospitalised by a migrant gang during an illegal goods seizure.
One Carabiniere officer received a broken nose and the other chest injuries as they retrieved counterfeit goods, including 160 fake designer bags, and were attacked by a group of Senegalese migrant street vendors.
Footage of the attack shocked Italy as it spread on social media, and highlighted worries that the country is overwhelmed by the number of illegal migrants trapped there thanks to European Union (EU) rules.
The attack occurred near the famous Piazza dei Miracoli, in Pisa, Tuscany, according to Corriere Della Sera.
After the officers were taken to the hospital, disturbances reportedly continued, with some of the Senegalese traders trying to calm down their more violent and disruptive counterparts.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the populist co-governing Lega party, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of the Interior, shared footage of the attack on Facebook, writing “sellers attack the carabinieri” and promising “solidarity and best wishes for a good recovery”.
He added that more “expulsions for illegal immigrants and restoring a climate of legality to our cities is my goal”.
Salvini spoke about the incident at a rally in support of a regional mayor, telling the crowd: “The Minister of the Interior and Italy is with you, the attackers will start to be afraid.”
Lorenzo Cardogna, the provincial secretary of a police union, told the newspaper Il Giornale that it was “yet another example of violence against the police, with a severely injured Carabiniere, whom we express all our solidarity and best wishes for a speedy recovery”.
He said the incident gave “a snapshot of a paradoxical situation in our city, with people who live constantly outside the law, practising an illegal trade, in the belief that the institutions can not do anything against them”.