Genoa G8 Aftermath Stories
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
AUG 13, 2001
Despite Reports of Brutality, Genoese Support Their Police
By MELINDA HENNEBERGER, The New York Times
GENOA, Italy, Aug. 12 An elderly priest unlocking the door
of his church on the square where a young protester was shot
dead by police officers three weeks ago summed up what seems
to be the prevailing feeling of the Genoese in the aftermath
of the recent summit meeting here.
"Time passes," he said.
"There was tumult, and violence is always terrible. People
are certainly upset these protesters came and burned
hundreds of cars and broke windows. But you could say in a
way it went well there was only one person killed."
The priest, the Rev. Giovanni Timossi, pastor of Our Lady of
Salvation church on Piazza Gaetano Alimonda, rushed into the
street after that one person, Carlo Giuliani, 23, was shot.
He wanted to give the young man last rites but was held back
by security officials.
Still, like the overwhelming majority of people interviewed
here this weekend, Father Timossi made clear that he felt
more sympathy for the police than for the protesters
despite widespread reports of brutality against
demonstrators during the meetings July 20 to 22 of the eight
major industrial nations.
"For two days, the police were attacked, offended, pelted
with stones," he said. Finally, "frustrated and depressed,
they did what they had to do."
In front of the church, there is a makeshift shrine for Mr.
Giuliani: a pile of floral bouquets, mostly dead now,
alongside poems, news clippings, pictures of Bob Marley and
Che Guevara. Several young backpackers were looking these
over this afternoon, along with a local man, Pietro
Giammona, 42. His 4 1/2-year-old daughter, Francesca, was
there with him, drawing a picture on which her father had
written, "To Carlo, from Francesca."
"We should leave a sign here, otherwise it will all be
forgotten," Mr. Giammona said. He said he had not thought
much about economic or industrial globalization one way or
the other before the meeting, but had joined the protests in
anger over what he saw as police overreaction. "Some people
care," he said.
A number of protesters are still in jail, including Susanna
Thomas of New Jersey, a student at Bryn Mawr. Her case is to
be reviewed Monday at a court hearing where she is to appear
with 3 other Americans and 16 Austrians, part of a group
that performs street theater as protest.
The Genoa police chief has acknowledged that excessive force
was used in some cases, and three top officers have been
removed. The worst reports came out of a local preschool,
where a number of apparently nonviolent protesters had been
staying. In the middle of the night, 92 demonstrators
sleeping at the school were dragged from their beds, beaten
and taken to jail.
"They were definitely on a punitive mission here," Luca
Cerbo, 38, said in front of the preschool. Mr. Cerbo blamed
the center-right government of Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi, which was elected this spring: "We wanted this
government, and now we got it."
A parliamentary inquiry into the protests and the violence
and at least half a dozen criminal investigations are under
way. But many here say they do not need official reports.
Fabrizio Margiotta, 37, who runs a newsstand on Piazza
Verdi, said he only faults the police for not intervening
sooner. "This was real, true guerrilla warfare," he said.
Franco Guazzini, 52, who watched looting from his window,
said: "I can't believe it's the police who are on trial. I
love Genoa, and suffered a lot to see it so beautiful, all
dressed up and ready to welcome our important guests, and
then to hear everyone in the world speaking of Genoa in this
Though an estimated $20 million in damage was done,
surprisingly few traces remain: some graffiti, a few broken
windows. The ancient port itself looks almost like a movie
set, with new wooden benches, freshly potted plants and
bright facades painted onto old buildings.
Some tourists said they had come specifically to see how the
city had come through the riots. "In fact, it's much more
beautiful now" than before Italy spent $100 million sprucing
up Genoa for the summit meeting, said Linetta Passalacqua of
Parma, who was sitting with her grown son near the fountains
in front of Palazzo Ducale, where the meetings was held.
Roberto Atzei, who lives on Corso Torino, where the worst of
the rioting occurred, said most of his neighbors had already
begun to put the unpleasantness behind them. "The Genoese
are strong and not easily moved," said Mr. Atzei, who works
in a hospital pharmacy.
Even Piazza Tommaseo, where businesses were heavily damaged,
is mostly clean today, though still marked with graffiti in
English declaring "Vegan Power" and "Disorder Is a Must!"
A man who owns a sandwich shop there said he saw the summit
meeting as a disaster for small-business owners like
himself. He boarded up his store and stayed away. But "all
the other windows on the piazza were smashed," he said.
"People are really upset because the police had orders not
to do anything, and by the time they were allowed to
advance, the damage was done." He too feels terrible for the
At a police station around the corner, an officer at the
front desk said he and his colleagues had not really known
what to do when a crowd of protesters marched on the
building, throwing rocks and a Molotov cocktail.
"Even if there were excesses, and probably there were, it's
the police who are suffering now," said the 40- year-old
officer, who would not give his name.
When protesters appeared outside the station, "At first we
just got out of the way," he said, smiling a little
sheepishly. "Then we put on helmets and bulletproof vests
and stood outside. They were throwing stones this big!" he
said, holding his hands to indicate rocks the size of salad
"These weren't peaceful demonstrations, or even
demonstrations against globalization," the officer said. "I
myself have strong feelings that third world debt should be
forgiven but these protesters didn't solve anything by
ruining what some other people had worked a lifetime to
build. How does attacking a market address globalization?"
He described many of those arrested as spoiled children of
the bourgeoisie. When they were arrested, he said, they
cried, " `My father is such-and-such, a respected person,'
then we'd find gas masks in their backpacks."
Then the officer picked up a newspaper on his desk and
pointed to an article with the headline "Unjustified
Violence." "Every paper is full of this!" he said, and
pointed again, this time at a picture of an officer kicking
a protester in the head. Two days earlier, he said, that
officer had himself been attacked.
"I don't justify anything violent that happened," the
officer went on, "but if the media showed everything that
happened here, people would have a different view the view
people here in Genoa have."
Monday, August 13, 2001
Delay in hearing for Bryn Mawr student held in Italy
By Alessandra Rizzo
GENOA, Italy - A Genoa court began hearings today on whether
to continue detaining 19 people arrested in connection with
violence at last month's Group of Eight summit. The judges
refused to immediately consider the cases of six others,
including a Bryn Mawr student, citing technicalities.
Among those whose cases were not heard was Susanna Thomas,
21, a Bryn Mawr student from Warren, N.J., who was
arrested in July with an Austrian theater group.
Thomas' lawyer, Gilberto Pagani, said the judges refused to
consider the case because too many lawyers were listed as
representing her. Under Italian law, defendants are allowed
two lawyers; court papers apparently list three for Thomas.
Pagani said the problem was resolved and he would resubmit a
motion seeking Thomas' release tomorrow, and ask for a
decision within five days.
Thomas and 18 members of the Austrian political street
theater company Publix Theater she had been traveling with
were arrested July 22 after leaving Genoa in a caravan of
Police alleged that the Publix Theater group had conspired
with the violent anarchists known as Black Bloc - who were
considered mainly responsible for the riots -- before and
during the summit. They could be sentenced to up to 15 years
Police seized jackknives, black clothes, cell phones and
flagpoles in their vehicles.
The actors maintain that the items were used in their street
performances. Thomas' parents have said their daughter, a
member of the pacifist Christian Quakers, would never take
part in violent protests and was in Genoa researching
nonviolent social activism.
Thomas and nine other women from the theater group have been
detained in Voghera, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of
Genoa. The cases of two other Americans, a Swede, an
Australian and two people from Slovakia were also in
detention and their cases were to have come up today.
While Thomas' motion to be released on bail was not
considered today, she did appear in court. Wearing a pink
T-shirt and khaki pants, Thomas answered prosecutors'
questions as part of a larger investigation, Pagani said.
"Her spirits are not the happiest," Pagani said. "She's been
in jail for 20 days. It's already difficult for us Italians
to understand what's going on. For a foreigner it's even
more so," he said.
Thomas herself made no comment to reporters as she left the
closed hearing. She was not handcuffed, but was escorted by
About 50 people gathered in front of the courthouse to
protest the arrests.
A statement handed out by representatives of the Genoa
Social Forum, an anti-globalization umbrella group, said
that the Austrian street performers' arrest was "a symbol
and a clear example of the arbitrary violence which occurred
to all of us" during the July 20-22 G-8 summit.
Italian authorities have upheld the arrests of 10 people so
far - a group of Germans suspected of being members of the
Another man, an Italian believed to have distributed batons
and other arms to violent protesters during the riots, was
About 300 people, the vast majority non-Italians, were
arrested during the Genoa riots, the most violent since the
anti-globalization movement surfaced in Seattle in 1999. One
protester was shot dead and over 200 people were injured.
Who Killed Carlo Giuliani?
The Progressive Populist
Who killed Carlo Giuliani? In one sense, a death in Genoa
was predictable, practically predicted by Silvio Berlusconi,
the new Italian prime minister, who boasted of the military
hardware to be deployed against protesters. In an
environment of militarized repression, armed paramilitary
squads, and good evidence of government-backed provocateurs
inciting violence, death was nearly inevitable.
The G-8, representing the world's most powerful
industrialized nations, met to mouth pretty words about
poverty in the third world, even as their policies backing
multinational corporations and denying medicine to the third
world have murdered millions yearly. So what was one more
Progressive observers rightly have debated the actions Carlo
may have taken that led to his death, but in an environment
of repression which had systematically violated legitimate
means of protest, anger in the streets incited by government
provocateurs was a recipe for tragedy.
The reality of Genoa was that you had a scared and angry
23-year old protester facing off against a scared, probably
angry 20-year old paramilitary cop in a militarized zone,
where the young cop was issued live ammunition. You don't
have to think that Carlo was a selfless martyr or that the
cop was a demon to understand that the global leaders who
set them both up are criminals. The elite wants to play a
game of pitting accusations of evil culpability as cops
denounce protesters and protesters demonize cops. Those
leaders had use for a dead protester as a message and they
But blaming just the G-8 leaders is too easy, since the
warnings were there for the protest movement. When you know
the opponent is coming for you with live ammunition,
denouncing the enemy for carrying out that threat is correct
public relations but empty as strategic evaluation. At a
certain point questions have to be asked what was done or
not done by your leadership to prevent the casualties?
So who killed Carlo Giuliani?
The so-called Black Bloc are the easy ones to blame,
promoting a theatre of violence in defiance of common
democratic strategy, ignoring every sense of solidarity in
complete mockery of an honorable tradition of anarchists in
history, and acting as a nicely disorganized body to harbor
police infiltrators and provocateurs. In a sense, the Black
Bloc wanted a dead martyr as their message as much as the
G-8 leadership wanted it for their purposes. Both fed off
their mutual violence parasitically.
Ideologically, the Bloc's individualistic acts of store
destruction are merely an angry mirror to the consumerist
individualism of those who shop there. The emptiness of
their actions allows commentators to rightly dismiss them
and, unfortunately, dismiss the broader disciplined movement
against global capitalism.
Worse, the violence they attract created the context in
which Carlo Giuliani died and helped justify the police
repression against the whole movement. Without newspaper
photos and TV screens of violence as the police's public
relations, the bloody Sunday raid on the nonviolent
headquarters of the broad-based Genoa Social Forum would
have caused far greater global outrage. Instead, much of the
public shrugged and washed their hands of both sides of the
But again, it's too easy to just blame the Black Bloc, who
were really relatively few in numbers. With tens of
thousands of non-violent protesters in Genoa, any
disciplined leadership could have restrained and shut down
the violent wing of the protests. Given the fact that the
police had no real intention of restraining the violence,
the responsibility to "keep the peace" fell to the
leadership of the democratic movement. There are numerous
non-violent ways to restrain such sectarian fringes at
rallies, but it takes political will and strategy to
confront them. Unfortunately for Carlo and the other
casualties of Genoa, that political will was lacking.
So Who Killed Carlo Giuliani?
Back in June, Bobby Seale and a number of other Black
Panther alumni had a conference in New Haven looking back 30
years on the Panther trials in that city. They had a lot of
fascinating reflections on the organizing of the day, but
the one thing all of them stressed was their own mistakes in
letting violence escalate beyond their point of control,
since the cops can always seize on uncontrolled violence to
infiltrate and discredit a movement.
On the panel was a recent New Haven chief of police who had
been on the force back in 1970. He made clear that the cops
themselves were scared out of there minds back then because
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was feeding them all sorts of
"intelligence" about the supposed murderous goals of the
Panthers. The goal of the elite is always to use clashes
between protesters and working class cops (playing on the
sympathies the public often has with the police) to escalate
to the point of discrediting protest. The reason we as
activists have to be concerned about violence, including
violence against the cops, is that our opponents don't care,
in fact for all their protestations, would like nothing
better than for a cop to die in order to justify more
There was, I think, a somewhat unstrategic overconfidence
that developed among protesters post-Seattle. The Seattle
cops were unprepared and played into the propaganda goals of
the protesters. As Philadelphia and now Genoa showed, the
cops are no longer unprepared and are developing both the
repressive technology and propaganda to crush the Black
Bloc-style protesters and the rest of the movement if we
don't develop some new strategies to control the escalation
This is not an argument for reduced militancy, since
discipline is the most dangerous weapon wielded in protest.
Disciplined militancy demonstrates the power of
organization, especially when deployed creatively.
Uncontrolled violence on the other hand is a sign of
weakness and lack of organizational power, for if the
democratic movement cannot muster enough political will to
restrain its own fringe, the elite knows that they have
little to worry about either from such lack of strategic
Ultimately, protests of tens of thousands, even hundreds of
thousands, are not what will challenge global corporate
power. Yet if disciplined resistance is shown at specific
points, those protests can publicly reflect organizing
happening in communities across the world. That will
continue to send the message that a growing global movement
is organizing for radical democratic change worldwide.
On the other hand, if the democratic movement cannot exert
that democratic discipline, they will only be promoting a
hopeless Childrens Crusade, sending more young people like
Carlo Giuliani off to die without purpose.
The choice lies with the movement.
Nathan Newman is a longtime union and community activist and
author of the forthcoming book Net Loss on Internet policy
and economic inequality. Email nathan@... or see
Thursday, August 9, 2001
Many rally to aid N.J. student arrested in Italy after
By Jennifer Moroz
INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF
A Quaker and vocal opponent of the death penalty who spends
her spare time composing music and doing community service,
Susanna Thomas is described by those who know her as a
Certainly, they say, she is not the type to "conspire to
devastate and plunder."
But that is the charge that Italian police have brought
against the 21-year-old Bryn Mawr College student. Finishing
her junior year abroad, Thomas was arrested as she left
Genoa on July 22 after the violent protests surrounding the
Authorities allege that Thomas, of Warren, N.J., and the
activist performers with whom she was traveling had
conspired with members of the Black Bloc anarchist movement,
who clashed with police in Genoa's streets.
Thomas, who could face a 15-year sentence on charges of
conspiring to destroy property, was being held in an Italian
jail, awaiting a hearing Monday.
Her detainment for a crime that many say she is incapable of
committing has sparked a crusade to secure her release. The
movement, started by her family, has gained the support of
New Jersey's U.S. senators, the Quaker community, and
lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic.
That effort comes as the Italian government is investigating
the police force's treatment of anti-globalization activists
at the annual meeting of the world's industrialized nations.
"There is no indication that this peaceful, altruistic young
woman did anything illegal," said Dick Atkins, the
Philadelphia lawyer hired by the Thomas family. "For her to
be in jail . . . for devastation and pillaging is
"We think the police were just exerting their new power
under the [newly elected] right-wing government."
Atkins, who is working on the case with a lawyer in Milan,
said Thomas, who is fluent in French and Spanish, had been
working as a translator for the media at the summit. She was
arrested with two dozen members of Publix Theatre, a
political theater troupe that is based in Vienna, Austria,
and travels throughout Europe to protest immigration laws
and to promote the "no borders" movement. The group included
three other Americans, whose names have not been released by
the State Department.
Atkins said police had searched the caravan, which included
a bus and two other vehicles, for "anything they could
reasonably or unreasonably connect them to Black Bloc,"
whose hallmark is that members wear all black. They found
two penknives, a couple of spare tires, and a black bra, he
"She's a prisoner of happenstance," said her father, Rick
Thomas, who manages a computer center at Rutgers University
and has set up a Web site in support of his daughter's
release. "It's all a horrible accident."
Susanna Thomas, an honors student majoring in urban
planning, had taken the year to study theology and politics
at Jesuit University in Paris. After finishing her studies
in May, she worked at a Quaker youth conference in Paris,
traveled for three weeks with a friend, then started
following the theater troupe as part of research for her
senior thesis on nonviolence and social activism.
Thomas had been corresponding with her parents regularly via
e-mail and telephone and called the day of her arrest to say
she was heading home soon. Two days later, the U.S.
consulate in Milan called the Thomases to tell them that
their daughter was being held at a women's prison in
Voghera, halfway between Genoa and Milan.
It was two weeks before they heard her voice again, this
time from a jail cell.
"She was scared, scared about her defense and how the appeal
will go," her mother, Cathy Thomas, said of the conversation
Tuesday. "She wants the whole group released because they
The family's frustration has gained widespread attention.
U.S. Sens. Robert Torricelli and Jon S. Corzine sent a joint
letter on July 27 to the U.S. Embassy in Rome, urging
intervention. The two New Jersey Democrats followed up with
information supporting Thomas' image as a young woman
devoted to caring for other people, not violence.
Thomas, among other things, has done work for Habitat for
Humanity and spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer.
"The senator is working with the State Department and our
people in Rome to make sure this gets resolved as quickly as
possible," Corzine spokeswoman Julie Roginsky said.
Yesterday, president Nancy Vickers said the Bryn Mawr
College community was deeply concerned about Thomas. "We
expect that her defense will make clear that [Thomas] - a
known Quaker - and the theater troupe with whom she was
arrested have been wrongly accused of violence they did not
commit," Vickers said.
Erika Behrend, associate dean of Bryn Mawr's undergraduate
college, earlier wrote to U.S. Sens. Rick Santorum and Arlen
Specter, urging the two Pennsylvania Republicans to assist
in the effort to secure Thomas' release.
State Department officials said U.S. diplomats had visited
all four American detainees.
"We are doing what we would normally do," said Peter
Becskehazy, spokesman for the department's Bureau of
European Affairs. "We're working closely with them and their
families and monitoring each case as it goes through the
At Monday's hearing, the Italian court will decide whether
to release Thomas, allow her to post bond and go free, or
detain her for trial.
"With all the support we're getting, I'm optimistic," said
Atkins, a lawyer who specializes in cases of Americans
detained overseas. "I know there will be a proper and
righteous outcome to this."
But Rick Thomas wasn't so certain.
"I believe in a rational world, she would be released," he
said. "But I understand that this is not a rational world."
Jennifer Moroz's e-mail address is jmoroz@....
Inquirer staff writer Kristin Holmes contributed to this
article. It also includes information from the Associated
News for Anarchists & Activists:
"It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
*anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
-- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
_Detective Comics_ #608