Yesterday walking by the Uffizi I saw a couple of Carabinieri grab an Asian woman who was peddling, no doubt illegally, some tourist trinkets to a small group.
If you are not familiar with Florence (or Italy in general and many other tourism towns in Europe) there is a some type of weird, unexplained set of rules that govern what is mainly (or seems to be) a set of illegal aliens (although some no doubt are legal) and the wares they peddle in the street. These various items are usually broken down by race and type - Asian women sell things to cover your shoulders in church or metal trinkets bent or stamped to spell your name, Arabic speaking caucasian men from various north African countries sell posters, black African nationals sell bags and sunglasses, etc. etc.
Anyway the point is that although all of this activity is illegal, it happens under the nose - literally - of the various branches of police here every day in a bizarre cat and mouse ritual that has to be seen to be believed and where the police rarely do anything about it. That being said, sometimes they do decide to chase and or round up some of these people for what appears to be no apparent reason (since they all do the same thing every day and they all know each other usually at least by face if not name). Of course the police may have reasons that are not easily seen on the street (for instance someone could be involved in a crime, drug use or sales, etc.).
But this all brings me back to what I saw yesterday. The woman nabbed by the police was obviously busted - there was no way she was going to get up and run away from them. And yes of course it is in their right to arrest someone breaking the law - I am not arguing with that at all. But the way they grabbed her, violently by the back of her neck, held her against her brief but apparent attempt to flee, threw her things to the ground, etc. - it all seems a reasonable part of an arrest (however unpleasant). Except - except they did this in the middle of a group of school kids. She was selling some name bracelet to a group of young girls, who were all visibly shaken, and quite upset by it. They were nearly speechless and appeared to be shaking in their shoes as their teacher led them away, one was in tears. And that just seems ridiculous on the part of the police. Not good for Florence, and a terrible memory for these children to take away with them that could have easily been avoided.