Compléments de Multitudes 7

Fascism in Genoa

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Version originale en anglais de art63, rub10, rub36I was there when the carabinieri raided the
IndyMedia Center and the Diaz school, in Genoa, at the end of the
protest against the G8 meeting. We heard the shouts and screams,
couldn’t get out the door, ran upstairs and hid, fearing for our lives.
Eventually the cops found us, but we were the lucky ones. A Member of
Parliament was in our building; lawyers and media arrived. There was
some obscure Italian legal reason why the police could be deterred. They
withdrew. But nothing could save our friends across the street, at the
school where people were sleeping and where another section of the
Independent Media were located. The police entered: the media and the
politicians were kept out. And they beat people. They beat people who
had been sleeping, who held up their hands in a gesture of innocence and
cried out, “Pacifisti! Pacifisti!” They beat the men and the women. They
broke bones, smashed teeth, shattered skulls. They left blood on the
walls, on the windows, a pool of it in every spot where people had been
sleeping. When they had finished their work, they brought in the
ambulances. All night long we watched from across the street as the
stretchers were carried out, as people were taken to the jail ward of
the hospital, or simply to jail. And in the jail, many of them were
tortured again, in rooms with pictures of Mussolini on the wall. This
really happened. Not back in the nineteen thirties, but on the night of
July 21 and the morning of July 22, 2001. Not in some third world
country, but in Italy: prosperous, civilized, sunny Italy. And most of
the victims are still in the hospital or in jail, as I write this four
days later. I can’t adequately describe the shock and the horror of that
night. But as terrifying as it was to live through it, what is more
frightening still are its implications: That the police could carry out
such a brutal act openly, in the face of lawyers, politicians and the
media means that they do not expect to be held accountable for their
actions. Which means that they had support from higher up, from more
powerful politicians. According to a report published in La Repubblica
from a policeman who took part in the raid, when the more democratic
factions within the police complained that the Constitution was being
violated, they were told, “We don’t have anything to be worried about,
we’re covered.” That those politicians also do not expect to be
condemned or driven from office means that they too have support from
higher up, ultimately, from Berlusconi, Italy’s Prime Minister, himself.
That they could beat, torture, and falsely arrest Italians means that
they do not expect to be held accountable by their own people. That they
could beat, torture and imprison internationals shows that they do not
expect to be held accountable by the international community. And
indeed, who is going to hold them accountable? George Bush, the
unelected, unmandated heir of a coup? Sweden, which just used live
ammunition on protestors? Canada, builders of the Wall of Shame? That
Berlusconi could support such acts means that he must be certain of
support from other international powers, and that these overtly fascist
actions are linked to the growing international escalation of repression
against protestors. That the Italian government used tactics learned
from Quebec: the wall, the massive use of tear gas, and that the RCMP
had observers in Genoa in preparation for next year’s meeting in
Calgary, means that police repression is also a global network. As we
learn from each action, so do they. That the Italian government are now
targeting the organizers of the Genoa Social Forum shows where their
agenda was heading all along: the discrediting of the antiglobalization
network, the discouraging of peaceful and legal protest as well as
direct action. The leader of the Forum has lost his job. Others are
fearing for their freedom and safety. It’s hard to make sense of all
that happened in Genoa. So much happened so fast, and in the middle of
it it was hard to know what was going on. The Black Bloc suddenly appear
in the midst of a square that is supposed to be a safe space for
peaceful gatherings: the police gas and beat the women and the pacifists
and let the Bloc escape. We are having a quiet lunch in the convergence
center by the sea, when suddenly tear gas cannisters are flying into the
eating area and a pitched battle begins directly outside, not a hundred
yards away from the main march. Prisoners report being tortured until
they agree to shout “Viva il Duce!” The police rationale for the attack
on the school was the supposed presence of members of the Black Bloc-but
they never attacked the actual Black Bloc encampment, and by the night
of the attack most of the Black Bloc had left the city. I’m not an
investigative reporter-I’m an activist and once upon a time when life
was not so overwhelming I was a novelist. I don’t like conspiracy
theories but I make sense of the world through stories. Genoa makes
sense to me if this is the plot:
“Memo: Italian Security to Italian
Government/U.S. and International Advisors:”Subject: Covert Security
Plan for Genova”Top Secret!
“The overt Security Plan for the Genova G8
meeting has been covered in a separate memo. The subject of this memo is
the covert plan. “Phase One: Lead up to the action: This phase is
characterized by two major aspects: the creation of a climate of fear
and anticipated violence by the stockpiling of body bags, deployment of
missiles, etc. And second, a concerted effort to undermine the
popularity of the stronger, radical groups such as the ‘Tute Bianca’ or
White Overalls through smear campaigns, accusations that they cooperate
with the police etc. If necessary, we will plant actual bombs to
increase the climate of fear. “Phase Two: Recruitment and infiltration:
We will concentrate on infiltrating the Black Bloc and strategically
placing provocateurs who will be in positions to instigate attacks,
violence, and destruction of private property which will turn the
population against the protestors. In addition, we will encourage
Fascist groups to run as segments of the Bloc which will then give us an
excuse to attack the main body of protestors. “Phase Three: Friday, 20
July. We arm the police and carabinieri with live ammunition rather than
rubber or plastic bullets. With luck, deaths will result. Our ‘Bloc’ can
appear strategically near any group we wish to attack, giving us the
excuse to gas and beat the ‘nonviolent’ demonstrators. Protestors should
be severely beaten and arrested protestors tortured to deter them from
further demonstrations. In addition, our Bloc will instigate the
destruction of property, particularly small shops, private cars, and
will attack and beat other demonstrators, perhaps even a nun or two,
further discrediting the anarchists. A high level of violence and
destruction should lessen the numbers expected for Saturday’s march.
“Phase Four: Saturday, 21 July. Our strategy here is directed to
undermine, divide, and disperse the march. We instigate more property
damage and police battles in the morning near the assembly point of the
march. One of our factions will attack the Tute Bianca during the march
itself. Shortly after noon, we begin a battle just outside the
convergence center, near the corner where the march turns north, giving
us the excuse to gas the convergence center. We attempt to drive the
battle into the march, splitting or disrupting it, and providing the
rationale to attack the march with tear gas and other dispersal agents.
“Phase Five: Post-march. We continue the climate of fear with a midnight
raid on the main communications center and sleeping quarters of the
protestors. Severe force is justified by rumors of Black bloc presence.
We uncover ‘evidence’ of connections between the Genova Social Forum and
the bloc, thereby discrediting them. Beatings, arrests and torture will
discourage future involvement with protests. “Phase Six: Sunday, 22 July
and beyond: We continue harrassment and random arrests of foreigners and
suspected protestors. We begin a campaign of accusations against the
Genoa Social Forum, connecting them with the Black Bloc, moving against
their employment, their credibility, and possibly taking legal action
against them. This will also force them to disavow the Black Bloc,
further splitting the movement. This memo is fiction, but I believe it’s
essentially true. Like a mathematical proof, it has a simple internal
consistency that makes sense of the known facts. And there is more and
more mounting evidence that the ‘black bloc’ in Genoa was significantly
composed of organized fascist groups working in collaboration with the
police. If it is true, even partly true, what does it mean to us? It
means that the response to the events in Genoa will determine what level
of force can be used against future demonstrations, whether we will see
smashed skulls and more deaths in Calgary, and blowtorches in the
armpits in the third world. There are signs, however, that their
strategy may backfire. On Monday all over Italy 250,000 people took to
the streets. The pressure is on for the Minister of the Interior to
resign; Berlusconi’s government is threatened. There were demonstrations
at Italian embassies all over the world. We need to keep the pressure
on, to make sure the issue doesn’t fade away. Keep calling and writing
the embassies. Get your political organization, union, workplace or
group of best friends to write and call. Ask your local news media why
they are not telling this story. Now is not the moment to be idealogical
and purist; now is the moment to call in all our allies, set aside our
differences, and act in solidarity. For if this level of repression goes
unchallenged, no one is safe, not the most legal NGO, not the most
reformist organization with the mildest demands. If we don’t act now,
when a political space remains open to us, we may lose the space to act
at all. Continue to organize and mobilize for the next one. Fear is
their most powerful weapon. The fact that they must resort to fascist
violence shows that we are a serious threat. If we want to continue to
be a threat, we also need to look critically at our own movement, to
identify what we do that leaves us wide open to infiltration and
manipulation. And we need both better preparation and better networks of
support for these actions. The Genoa Social Forum needs support. They’ve
sent out the following call — please answer it. — Starhawk

Genoa Social Forum — Urgent Call to ActionMinistry of Interior and on
demonstrations in thirty Italian cities are held, with more than 250,000
people participating. We ask your help for denouncing these threats to
democracy and justice.You could act in one or more of the following
ways: 1. Write a short statement (or a brief article) in support of the
right toprotest against the G8, in solidarity with the Genoa Social
Forum and thepeaceful demonstrators. Please state clearly your
affiliation. The textswill be published by the Left daily Il Manifesto,
and by other media aroundthe world. 2. Send formal messages of support
on behalf of associations, NGOs, mediaorganisations, Universities, etc.
3. Write/sign an international appeal for democracy, justice, respect of
human and civil rights. If many of you are interested, we can work
togetheron a text in the next days. Please send your articles and
messages and to the Genoa Social Forumvia
San Luca 15/9 – 16124 Genova, Italiatel. 010 2461749fax 010 2461413