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by by Starhawk
Saturday, Jul. 28, 2001 at 7:32 AM
A First hand account by Starhawk five days after being there. Very REAL!!!!
Feel free to repost this far and wide!
Fascism in Genoa
I 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
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
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
"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
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
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.
> On Monday the opposition has demanded in Parliament the resignation of the
> Ministry of Interior and on Tuesday 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 to
> protest against the G8, in solidarity with the Genoa Social Forum and the
> peaceful demonstrators. Please state clearly your affiliation. The texts
> will be published by the Left daily Il Manifesto, and by other media around
> the world.
> 2. Send formal messages of support on behalf of associations, NGOs, media
> organisations, 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 together
> on a text in the next days.
> Please send your articles and messages to:
> and to the
> Genoa Social Forum
> via San Luca 15/9 - 16124 Genova
> tel. 010 2461749
> fax 010 2461413
> e.mail firstname.lastname@example.org - email@example.com
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