3,000 Soldiers Deployed…To the Streets of Italy

Reactions have been mixed to the Italian government’s decision to put 3,000 soldiers in the streets of Italian cities in an effort to help police fight crime. Rome in particular will receive 1,000 troops in the decision, which has been put into effect starting today and which will use the troops to patrol embassies, government buildings, metro stations and an immigrant holding center in the outskirts of the city

“It’s ridiculous. It’s like being under a military regime, as if Rome were in (the Pinochet regime’s) Chile,” declares a bus driver quoted by ANSA.it. “The use of the armed forces is a sign of weakness for a democracy. During the time of the Red Brigades urban terrorism (in the ’70s and early ’80s) it made sense to use the army, but now it’s useless and just spreads fear among the citizens,” he continued.

Some see the deployment to be a positive measure, however, including another citizen quoted by ANSA.it, Laura, a cashier in a Milanese jewelry store: “There’s too much crime here — I was robbed last week and my friend was almost mugged. It’s good to see the army intervene.”

Many have welcomed the soldiers with open arms, as was seen at the Roman suburban metro station of Anagnina, where commuters broke into applause at the sight of the arriving troops.

Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, has pledged that the capital will not look like a city under siege, and has promised that mixed street patrols of troops and police will not patrol the historic center, so as to maintain the tourist-friendly image that visitors to Rome so depend on. — Justine Gregory