Former Fascist Behind Genoa Crackdown?
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
Wednesday, August 1, 2001
Was former fascist behind Genoa crackdown?
By Paddy Agnew
The Irish Times
ROME LETTER: "If you want to know just why the police
decided to raid the Genoa Social Forum centres on the
Saturday night, you should put that question to the
The speaker is Vittorio Agnoletto, spokesman for the Genoa
Social Forum (GSF), the main Italian, pacifist
anti-globalisation movement. The "honourable Fini" is
ex-Fascist Alleanza Nazionale leader and current Deputy
Prime Minister, Gianfranco Fini.
In the protracted fallout from the violent events which
marred the G8 summit in Genoa 10 days ago, costing one life
and 231 injured not to mention an estimated £40 million in
damages, a dark cloud hangs over the recently installed
centreright government of media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.
For the last week serious questions have been asked both in
Italy and abroad about the behaviour of the police and
carabinieri in Genoa.
Not only the street warfare but, perhaps more worryingly,
the police raid on the GSF centres and their treatment of
protesters while in detention have been at the centre of
concern expressed in Italy by the opposition, by senior
Catholic bishops, by prominent figures in public life and
even by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
In the face of a huge and still growing international body
of evidence, there seems little doubt that police, some
policemen at least, resorted to systematic and unjustifiable
Was this merely an "excess of zeal" or was it also done out
of a sense of having "political cover" from a right-wing
In particular, the Saturday night raid on GSF centres
prompts difficult questions. Breaking into the centre at
midnight, police detained 93 people after staging a violent
blitz that saw some protesters carried out injured in their
At a subsequent news conference, police displayed a motley
haul of sticks, bottles, iron bars and Swiss pocket knives
as proof that the "pacifist" GSF had afforded shelter to the
violent anarchist or "Black Bloc" operatives at the centre
of the street riots. Furthermore, only one of the 93
detained was held over in custody.
If only one person was subsequently arrested, why use such
violence? Was it necessary to stage such a blitz at
midnight, as if police were raiding a Mafia hideout or
Throughout the last week Mr Berlusconi has expressed his
solidarity with the security forces, arguing that "like the
vast majority of Italians, I am on the side of . . . men who
with courage and at great risk to themselves defended law
and order, the state and all its citizens".
No one who was in the streets of Genoa could deny that the
security forces were under huge pressure in a white-hot
cauldron where battlelines had already been drawn up, partly
by their presence in massive numbers but more by the
gratuitous hooliganism of the Black Blocs.
Consistent reports through the last week, however, that
detained protesters were made to shout "Viva il Duce" and
"Uno, due, tre, Pinochet" would suggest that elements in the
security forces went beyond their brief.
Was such behaviour just the frustrated reaction of men who
had been too long in the front line? Or was it the behaviour
of a police force keen to please its new right-wing masters?
"What was Deputy Prime Minister Fini doing at police HQ in
Genoa? What were four Alleanza Nazionale deputies doing in
the Carabinieri Operations Room?
Is there a link between these events and those shouting
`Viva il Duce' or `Viva Pinochet'?" asked Democratic Left
party whip and former house speaker, Luciano Violante, in an
interview in the Rome daily La Repubblica yesterday.
While the six current judicial investigations will doubtless
throw light on many aspects of the Genoa violence, there
remains the awkward question of political responsibility.
The buck will clearly stop on the Prime Minister's desk but
is it a problem foisted on him by his Deputy Prime Minister?
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