Last week was not an easy week for the Maltese Police Force. On Monday, Malta was shocked by one of the worst assassinations in the country’s history, putting the entire nation on edge.
Three days later, after endless calls for an official statement from the police investigating Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, the Police Commissioner and his deputies held one of the worst police press conferences ever, exacerbating the situation greatly, and barely giving out any new information.
By the next morning, national calls for the resignation for the Police Commissioner had made the rounds, and everything culminated Sunday night after a national demonstration organised by the Civil Network Society ended with an impromptu sit-in outside the Police depot in Floriana.
The sit-in blocked one of the main roads into Valletta for hours, and a large banner of Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar was brought and hung outside on the gates of the depot, and was pelted with coins, tomatoes, and pastizzi, as the crowd jeered and shouted insults.
But for all the people attacking the police, calling the force incompetent and incapable of handling the investigation into Caruana Galizia’s murder, many others have expressed their support and solidarity for the embattled police force.
Two petitions, one expressing support for the Police Commissioner, and the other for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, also began to spread online.
The Police Officer’s Union posted a video called “Solidarity with Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar”, which compiled scenes from Sunday’s protest alongside recorded comments from Police Officer Union head Sandro Camilleri.
Reacting to the demonstration outside the police depot on Sunday evening, he emotionally said that “I’m going to be a bit harsh, but we aren’t treated like policemen anymore. We are treated like trash. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, this reaction from people, all the shouting and insults thrown at the police….it was surreal. Everyone looks to Europe, but let’s be realistic, is there any country in the world where crime doesn’t take place? Our policeman are omnipresent, they are out there all the time.”
He also pointed out that, apart from the Police Commissioner, there were also “four deputies and twelve assistant commissioners, more than there have ever been in the history of the police corps.
“We enjoy every right to protest in Malta, a democratic country where you can protest whenever you want practically,” continued Camilleri. “However, we cannot degenerate into insults and shouts, go to the depot, to the home of the police force in Malta and do what they did….could you imagine if they went to the headquarters of the Labour or Nationalist party and threw up a banner and insulted and denigrated everyone they could?”
Many of the public were shocked at the treatment of Malta’s police force, wondering how far the protesters would be allowed to go.
In response to the strong emotions online, Sandro Camilleri called for calm and for people not to let their emotions overcome them.