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Fascism in Genoa

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

by Starhawk

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

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


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


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 -

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