Nov. 14 - Italian riot police charge a line of demonstrators holding makeshift shields bearing anti-austerity slogans as protests sweep Europe. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION In the Italian capital, riot police fired tear gas at protesters on Wednesday (November 14), as clashes broke out during an anti-austerity demonstration. Armed with makeshift shields painted with anti-austerity slogans, the protestors hurled objects towards police lines as they neared Ponte Sisto, close to the main synagogue next to the Tiber river. Police then moved in with armoured vehicles to break up the groups of protestors. Several people are believed to have been injured but authorities have not released any official numbers. Riot police were seen pulling protestors out of the group and holding them on the ground before they were led off. Earlier, students and teachers marched in tandem for a national general strike called by Italy's biggest union, the CGIL, as part of a European-wide demonstration against austerity polices. Near the Colosseum, students lit flares and scaled lampposts. Banners read, "Enough profiting from our lives" and "not our debt". Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti took over an unelected government a year ago, replacing the scandal-plagued Silvio Berlusconi, and pushed through a stifling series of spending cuts and tax increases to save the country from a Greek-style debt crisis. The belt-tightening worsened the recession already weighing on the euro zone's third-biggest economy, and joblessness has risen a record high, with youth unemployment at 35 percent, over three times the national rate. Strikers and protesters in Rome shut down public transportation and snarled traffic, while tens of thousands of others marched up and down the Italian peninsula, including in Naples, Milan, Pisa and Turin. Student ire is focused on an education reform currently going through parliament that would give schools more autonomy and allow them to accept private funding.