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Matthew Rothschild:If You Prepare to Kill Protesters, You'll End Up Doing So...

by The Progressive Monday, Jul. 23, 2001 at 2:43 AM

People stand around the spot marked by a makeshift memorial where a demonstrator was killed during clashes with police, Saturday July 21, 2001 in Genoa, Italy. The demonstrator was killed Friday during clashes between police and protesters. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) - Jul 21 10:09 AM ET

Matthew Rothschild:I...
memorial.jpg, image/jpeg, 449x332

Italian Police Kill Genoa Protester

If you prepare to kill protesters, you'll end up doing so.

That seems to be the meaning of the senseless killing on Friday of an anti-globalization protester in Genoa.

Reuters news service reported the following:

"A protester was shot in the head on Friday by an Italian paramilitary trooper and run over by a security van. . . . A Reuters photographer saw a group of demonstrators attack a Carabinieri van with stones. A protester was hit in the head by gunfire from the van after throwing a fire extinguisher at the vehicle. The demonstrator fell to the ground and then was run over by a Carabinieri jeep."

Reuters later reported that the protester had died.

A rally was being called at the Italian embassy in New York for late Friday afternoon to denounce this lethal violence.

While the mainstream media will likely lay most of the blame on the protesters themselves, their actions do not warrant summary execution!

Provocative perhaps, but the militarization of Genoa itself is a form of provocation.

A Wall Street Journal editorial Friday favoring the militarization noted that Italy decided to "deploy 16,000 police officers and 2,700 troops, including special-op forces; make room in its prisons by providing early releases to convicted criminals; set aside a few hundred extra caskets 'just in case'; surround a four-kilometer-square 'red zone' with several layers of three-meter-high barbed wire fence."

As Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, the authors of "Empire," write in Friday's New York Times, "Genoa has been transformed into a medieval fortress of barricades. . . . The rulers are effectively blind and deaf to the ruled. The protesters take to the streets because this is the form of expression available to them. The lack of other venues and social mechanisms is not their creation."

We can argue about tactics all night long.

I'm strongly of the opinion that throwing stones and fire extinguishers at police or breaking windows of capitalist enterprises is not a wise thing to do tactically and is of dubious morality.

As Gandhi put it, we should "be the change we want to see in the world."

If we want a peaceful and just world, we should act peaceably and justly.

But I understand that since the time of the Luddites, who 200 years ago destroyed the knitting machines of their Nottinghamshire bosses, people have been rising up against their capitalist masters in untidy ways.

Today's masters are the leaders of the wealthiest nations who are now meeting in Genoa, and the institutions that do their bidding: the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO.

The protesters are naturally rebelling against them.

And if the masters' armed guards are going to respond with lethal force, the patina of legitimacy will wear off like morning fog, and the bruteness of the current economic arrangements will be there for all to see.

--Matthew Rothschild

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