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Thursday, Aug. 09, 2001 at 4:25 PM
The police who raided the schools with batons smashing heads were trained by LA cops.
Genoa police unit trained by U.S. sheriffs
ROME (Reuters) - An elite Italian police unit which carried out a
bloody raid against protesters at a Group of Eight summit in Genoa
was trained by U.S. police chiefs, an Italian newspaper reported
For four months, 70 specially selected officers were trained by two
Los Angeles police sheriffs. A larger number of police also received
a week-long training course from the Americans, according to the
Communist daily Liberazione.
"The prime responsibility of the two Los Angeles sheriffs was to
train the men from the special unit in the use of American aluminum
batons," an unidentified policeman who took part in the one-week
course was quoted as saying.
"From the start, they openly criticized the way in which Italian
police carry out public order," he said.
Not only is the use of foreign expertise likely to cause
consternation, but the fact the officers came from Los Angeles, a
city scarred by mass riots in 1992 following the police beating of
black motorist Rodney King, also raises serious questions.
In a midnight assault on a school which was acting as a headquarters
for protest groups during the July 20-22 summit, 62 people were
injured and 93 arrested. Many were laid out on stretchers with
Reporters who entered the school soon afterwards saw blood stains on
the walls and broken teeth scattered on the floor. At least one
protester has since undergone brain surgery.
Allegations of police brutality have flooded in and three top police
officials have been transferred by the interior minister, who has
faced calls for his own resignation.
The Interior Ministry declined to make a comment at this time on the
involvement of the American sheriffs.
As well as brutality, there were also allegations that police
sexually assaulted female protesters. Two weeks after the summit,
nearly 50 demonstrators are still in prison. Many say their human and
civil rights have been violated.
The police source told the paper the American sheriffs had said
repeatedly that "in Los Angeles all we need is a nucleus of 20 cops
to disperse hundreds of demonstrators because we can fire rubber
bullets which wound, but don't kill."
On the first day of the Genoa summit, a 23-year-old protester who was
attacking a police vehicle was shot and killed by an Italian
The source also said that the week-long course he had been assigned
to was more like a military boot camp.
"We marched, learned how to form shield defenses and how to jump
through fire or out of a moving vehicle," he said.
"It was more like a medieval tournament. In the end we were doing
purely military training. There seemed no difference between police
officers and soldiers."
Copyright 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or
redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar
means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of
Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the
content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. All active
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