francesca da rimini on Mon, 23 Jul 2001 10:37:12 +0200 (CEST)

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This report and considerations are by someone who didn't go to Genova, but
who followed spasmodically the news of what was happening, and was
anguished for friends imprisoned in a terrible mouse trap.

As a primary consideration, I will begin from the epilogue, or the police
raid, which happened on Saturday around midnight in two schools, allocated
in two opposite buildings in Via Battisti. One of the schools, called
"Giovanni Pascoli", was hosting the Indymedia Center, the weekly magazine
CARTA and the press office of the Genoa Social Forum, a network of around
400 NGO's and activist groups. The other school, the "Diaz", was a
dormitory for demonstrators. The police had no mandate from the
magistrature and entered the buildings searching for weapons or
explosives, as established by the Italian laws (article 41). During the
raid many people, most of whom were sleeping in the dormitory, were
brutally beaten. The medics and the journalists, who entered the building
around 2.30 am found themselves in front of the horrific spectacle of
walls and pavements covered with blood stains everywhere.  The following
is the translation of a report by the journalist Andrea De Nicola, who
writes for one of the main Italian newspapers, la Repubblica:   

"Two molotov bottles and two hammers. This is what remained in the hands
of tens and tens of policemen that last night have broken into the two
schools hosting the Genoa Social Forum. Indeed, on the table of the saloon
of the Genoa's Questura (Police Central Station)  something else was in
evidence: three caps, swimming pool glasses, bends, a pair of surgical
gloves, one thermos, 25 knives (10 of which were "Opinel" model, others
for cooking), one wooden stick, and some alluminium bars…And also: women's
sanitary pads, fotocameras, mobiles, black suits, a book, a diary, and a
toupee.  This material should justify the arrest of 92 people caught
whilst sleeping in the schools of the Genoa Social Forum, the hurting of
66 of them, as a result of an uncomprehensible aggression for its
brutality, if not, as the official version recites (a version not
confirmed both by the youth staying in the school, and the Genova citizens
who live in the surrounding buildings) as a reaction to generic "violences
committed against the police". The 92 people arrested are mainly
foreigners (40 of them are German). Currently, noone is able to say if
amongst them there were "Black Bloc". 

Full story (in

As a first thing, we have to remember that the Genoa Social Forum is not a
bunch of radicals, but the organisation who actually brought in Genoa
around 200.000 thousand people, 95% of whom demonstrated non-violently
their opposition to the  G8 meeting. The Genoa Social Forum is a coalition
of around 500 groups such as enviromentalists, NGOs (from WWF to
Greenpeace), catholics and consumers associations, many different unions,
the Youth of the Social Democratic Party (DS), the Green and the Comunist
Party, and activists groups such as Attac, Ya Basta!. the "White
Overalls" and many others. 

How is it possible that the police attacked the Headquarters of such a
broad coalition? Is this the symbolic gesture of a new political season,
ruled by an iron fist on political dissent, or a tragical mistake made in
an uncontrolled situation?

The thesis sustained by the Minister of the Internal Affairs and confirmed
by the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi,  is that in the building was
signaled the presence of extremists. According to Silvio Berlusconi, some
representatives of the Genoa Social Forum supplied a protection to the
radical groups, who devastated. As an evidence of this thesis, the police
showed a sack, seized in the dormitory, containing some "black overalls",
a term constructed by the media to label anarchist and violent groups. The
violence which happened inside the building was justified as a reaction to
the aggression of the demonstrators. 

The thesis of the demonstrator is opposite. More than one of the 66
injuried carried from the building out in the ambulances, were still in
their sleeping bags, their faces covered with blood, one or more limbs
broken. Many of them, the ones that could still speak, declared to the
journalists to be  wildly beaten while they were still sleeping. Some
others were forced to line up and beaten from the back (this would explain
the blood stains all around the walls). According to an Italian IMC
reporter, a British correspondent of the IMC, is actually in a coma.  

The blitz at the media center, in the Pascoli school, had also another
effect: the seizure of video tapes - apparently documenting the death of
Carlo Giuliani from a different angle - and the total destruction of the
computers of the advocacy group and of other sensitive data. Friday, late
afternoon, Luca Casarini, spokesman of the "White Overalls" had announced
that the GSF was in possession of photographic material showing the
collusion between groups of infiltrators and the Carabinieri. These
pictures, showing two or three fake demonstrators leaving the Carabinieri
barracks "San Giuliano", are now published on the Indymedia website 

According to Vittorio Agnoletto, spokesman of the Genoa Social Forum, the
independent photo-reporter that shot the pictures witnessing this
collusion had to remain anonymous and was apparently searched by the
police a few hours after having delivered the pictures to a lawyer. 

The ipothesis of a premeditated attack received an authoritative
confirmation, from the National Federation of the Press, the powerful
Union of the Italian professional journalists, who defined the raid
"unjustified and unnecessarly violent" and an attack to the freedom of

The police raid of the GSF press office as a final act of terror, tells us
two things about the strategy of this Government, but also, considering
the precedent of Gotheborg and the solidarity that the Italian Government
received from the other leaders, of a new global strategy against the
global movement:

1- To demonstrate in a western country is not any more a civil right
protected by the Constitution (not only the Italian one). If you want to
demonstrate you have to know you can risk your life or your physical
2- There is no compromise with the "non-violent" side of the movement. The
line between violent and non-violent demonstrators is blurred, because the
groups are transparent and support each other (notice: this position is
not far from the Sharon's position as regard the OLP and Yasser Arafat). 

As regard the violence exercised by the demonstrators, the discourse would
require a long reflection. The GSF declared that on friday the violent
groups were reaching a number of not more than 400 units. Moving very
quickly, between one demonstration and another, these groups were able to
disseminate panic and confusion. The police was unable or didn't want to
isolate these cells, charging undiscriminately. Many tear gases were shot
from helicopters, like in a war zone. After the death of the demonstrator
the exasperation grew in intensity. The spiral of violence started on
Friday was reaching its top on Saturday, with several hundreds (between
500 and 1000) of injuried and 126 arrests. The number of people reacting
violently to the police was of few thousands, most of which not related to
the so called anarchic "Black Bloc". 

The explosion of this violence, even if largely readable as a reaction to
police brutality, demonstrates that this movement has a big problem to
face. Besides the infiltrators, a new generation of protestors - most of
which are kids - have a destructive fury that has to be comprehended and
healed. The isolation of the violence is theoretically possible, but it
becomes almost impossible if the Government uses it as an expedient to
increase the riots and to finally criminalize all the movement.

Tomorrow, at 4 PM, Italian time, the Minister of the Internal Affairs,
Claudio Scajola, will refer to the Parliament. Wile the GSF and the
Communist Party already required the dimission of the Minister, the
moderate insitutional left (DS and Ulivo) is waiting the talk to take a
more precise position. At the same time, a sit-in has been announced in
the square in front of the Parliament. The GSF called for a day of
demonstrations in all the country for this coming tuesday.

Please, stay tuned and spread information. The situation in Italy is
particularly critical, probably more than in Austria. If you don't want
that one of the most rich western countries will fall in a dark help,
please keep alert and help.

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