Sunday Oct 20, 201906:09 AM GMT
Italian police clash with protesters
Wed Dec 8, 2010 4:52PM
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Scuffles broke out at La Scala opera house in Milan on Tuesday, December 7, 2010.
Clashes have broken out outside Italy's La Scala opera house in Milan between Italian police forces and demonstrators, protesting against proposed budget cuts in arts and education.

Opera house workers and students from across Italy were rallying outside the opera house during a performance of Richard Wagner's The Valkyrie on Tuesday, when police in riot gear fired tear gas and charged at the crowd with batons.

Reports indicated that the police targeted students present at the demonstration which came in reaction to a planned 37 percent reduction in performing arts subsidies.

According to AFP, a group of helmet-wearing students threw firecrackers and attempted to break through the police corridors to the opera house building. Several security officials were reportedly injured.

Before raising his baton from the orchestra pit, conductor Daniel Barenboim tried to appeal to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who was attending the performance.

"In the names of the colleagues who play, sing, dance and work, not only here but in all of the theatres, I am here to tell you at what point we are deeply worried for the future of culture in the country and in Europe," Barenboim said.

He also read a passage from the Italian Constitution, saying that the state "promises to develop culture and technical and scientific research, protect the environment and the nation's historical and artistic heritage."

His remarks were met by a round of applause.

The demonstration came as part of nationwide social unrest in reaction to proposed reforms by the Italian government to implement austerity measures in the budget.

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