ROME – Hooded youths from an anti-government protest attacked Italian police in Florence with cobblestones, sticks and other objects Saturday, prompting police to respond with tear gas.
Police used shields to block the young men who were charging them in an attempt to reach a building where Premier Matteo Renzi was attending political talks in the Tuscan city renowned for its Renaissance heritage.
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella said several police were injured in the clashes but did not give a specific number. Italian media said one officer was injured on the leg, apparently from a firecracker.
Those involved in the clashes were among a larger group of peaceful anti-government protesters who aimed to show opposition to a constitutional referendum on Dec. 4 that Renzi has called. The Italian leader says the changes constitute important reforms, but opponents fear they will lead to an excessive centralization of power in Italy.
The demonstration was held under the slogan “No to Renzi! No to the referendum!”
Nardella sharply denounced the violence.
“Hooded people who use violence against the city are deplorable,” he said. “Saying no is legitimate, destroying Florence is unacceptable.”