Sunday, June 9, 2019

13 Views of Two Different Kinds of Demonstrations from Yesterday's Anti-Cruise Ship Rally

The wall of police not only meant that demonstrators couldn't enter Piazza San Marco via the Piazzetta, but that tourists couldn't get out that way either

"Venice is just a series of stage sets!" declares nearly everyone at some point during their first extended visit to Venice, either to themselves, silently, or to their co-travelers, or, often enough, in print.

Yesterday's rally calling for the end of cruise ship traffic anywhere in the already-strained ecosystem of the Venetian lagoon ultimately came down to a question of who would be allowed to act in the city's most famous, and historically significant set: Piazza San Marco.

Thousands of anti-cruise ship activists outfitted themselves for their role, with flags, banners, placards, and printed T-shirts, and Venice's law enforcement (over 200 of them, according to local reports) came dressed for theirs, with helmets, shields, and body armor. Dressed to impress, some might say--or suppress, as others might put it.

It was a lively but peaceful rally; I saw no indication in the lead-up to it that anyone was planning for it to be anything else. There were no reported conflicts or incidents, nor any hint of vandalism. City authorities were obviously determined to demonstrate a certain point by preventing the march from concluding in Piazza San Marco with such a show of force. But in their sheer numbers demonstrators made their own point by filling the space made available to them along the molo at water's edge. 

A nearly 180 degree panorama of the waterfront between the Biblioteca Marciana (at far right) and the Palazzo Ducale (far left)

"Galan, Zaia, Brugnaro: Unworthy,"

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