Nina De Chiffre, the 20-year-old Italian student who kissed the visor of a police officer’s helmet during a protest demonstration, is now being charged with “sexual violence” by the union that represents Italian police officers.
Photos of De Chiffre going in to plant a smooch on the officer’s plastic facial shield quickly spread around the globe after the November protest. The images were widely perceived as symbols of peaceful protest, similar to photographs of American student demonstrators slipping flowers into the gun barrels of riot police during the “Summer of Love,” 1967.
The most widely disseminated of the photos is below.
But a top official of COISP, the Italian police union, says that De Chiffre’s form of political statement should be treated no differently than if the roles were reversed.
"If the policeman had kissed her, World War III would have broken out," said the union’s secretary-general, Franco Maccari. “Or what if I had patted her on the behind? She would have been outraged. So if she does that to a man on duty, should it be tolerated?"
De Chiffre (pictured) also licked her fingers and rubbed them on the officer’s mouth.
She told a Italian newspaper that her kiss was an attempt to poke fun at the cops.
“I would say that we were successful," De Chiffre said.
The union filed a complaint with prosecutors over the incident , which took place in the historic Northern Italian city of Turin. The demonstration was part of a long-running protest against a proposed high-speed rail link that would connect Turin with the French city of Lyon.
"We have accused the protester of sexual violence and insulting a public official,” said Maccari.
De Chiffre herself appeared to contradict the apparent love-power message of her kiss. On her Facebook page, according to reports, her message was anything but affectionate.
"No peace message," she wrote. "I would hang all these disgusting pigs upside down."
She told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that she was enraged over an earlier beating of a protester by the police. She said that seeing the police officer in uniform evoked “pity and disgust” in her.
Her statements would appear to back up Maccari’s opinion. "This was hardly a peace gesture, more a provocation,” he said.
As for the officer on the receiving end of De Chiffre’s passive-aggressive protest, Salvatore Piccione, he told Italian media that he was just doing his job as he let the young woman kiss him without any reaction.
“When I'm wearing my uniform I represent the police institution, and I have an obligation not to react to provocation,” Piccione said. "The important thing is that, in the end, the demonstration went ahead without disturbance.”