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Fascism's Face in Genoa

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Fascism s Face in Genoa by John L. Allen Jr, The Nation August 15, 2001 While violence
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 16, 2001
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      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      Fascism's Face in Genoa

      by John L. Allen Jr, The Nation

      August 15, 2001

      While violence generated by the radical "black bloc"
      dominated initial headlines during the G-8 summit in Genoa,
      it is now Italy's men in blue who find themselves at the
      center of criminal investigations and political debate.
      Using physical evidence and eyewitness testimony, critics
      charge that the Italian police engaged in systematic
      beatings and human rights abuses, leading some to compare
      the conduct of the Italian police to the Chilean security
      forces under Pinochet. At an August 3 press conference, lead
      investigator Francesco Meloni said, "The reports of
      violence, and the identical testimony of scores of persons
      who passed through jails in diverse hours and days during
      the G-8, suggest a systematic method of torture and genuine
      violations of human rights."

      Most pointedly, Italian magistrates, journalists and
      politicians are demanding to know how a July 21 midnight
      police raid on the headquarters of the Genoa Social Forum,
      organizers of the antiglobalization protests, was
      authorized, and who is responsible for the wide range of
      abuses alleged to have taken place. A police review, a
      parliamentary inquest and at least four judicial
      investigations are looking into accusations. In all,
      ninety-three people were arrested, and all but one released
      without charges. Photos taken of protesters show broken
      teeth, bruises and head wounds. Police are also said to have
      confiscated videotapes and computer hard drives that the
      Genoa Social Forum had been using to document misconduct.

      Police justified the raid on the grounds that the Genoa
      Social Forum was aiding and abetting the violence of the
      "all blacks." Only two Molotov cocktails were actually
      found, however, along with a handful of sticks, iron bars
      and pocketknives, which strained credulity as a "cache of
      weapons." Many observers believe the raid was in fact a
      calculated reprisal against leftist organizers, blamed by
      police for giving cover to the violent protesters, despite
      the fact that the Genoa Social Forum had called for
      nonviolent modes of resistance. "It was probably a sort of
      vendetta--of a Chilean type," said Riccardo Barenghi, editor
      of Il Manifesto, which has been following the story closely.

      Initially the new, right-wing Italian government of Silvio
      Berlusconi, for whom the G-8 summit was supposed to be a
      kind of debut, blocked calls for a parliamentary
      investigation. Berlusconi later changed course. The first
      casualties of the probes came August 2, when three top
      police officials were removed from office by Interior
      Minister Claudio Scajola, who himself had just survived
      calls for removal from Italy's center-left opposition.
      Opposition leaders want the scope of the investigations to
      include political responsibility for the violence. Most
      important, they want a close examination of the role of
      Berlusconi's deputy prime minister, the neo-Fascist
      Gianfranco Fini, who was in Genoa during the G-8 and
      maintained close contact with the police and security
      forces. For at least some of this time, Fini was actually
      ensconced at police headquarters. Was he involved,
      investigators want to know, in the decision to raid the
      Genoa Social Forum or in encouraging police to take a hard

      Barenghi said he believes that the ascent of Fini's National
      Alliance Party, with its roots in Italy's Fascist past,
      helped shape the climate in which the police operated.
      "Certainly the most violent among the police felt themselves
      authorized to beat people from the fact that today in Italy
      we have a government of the right, which has within itself
      the heirs of Fascism," he said in an interview. A related
      issue is exactly who made up the "black bloc." Spokespersons
      for the Genoa Social Forum charge that some black-clad
      protesters were drawn from the far right and infiltrated the
      antiglobalization movement to discredit it. Italian
      newspapers have published documents revealing that police
      had knowledge of such plans. One high-profile observer,
      Italian activist-priest Fr. Vitaliano Della Sala, has said
      he believes that some far-right elements had tacit police

      What impact such charges may have on Berlusconi's
      government, if they are confirmed, is unclear. The story has
      dominated Italian newspapers and television broadcasts.
      Three Italian bishops issued a statement saying they had not
      seen such violence in Italy since World War II, and that the
      beatings suggested that police were "punishing the
      expression of ideas someone doesn't like." Polls by the
      respected firm Datamedia show, however, that most Italians
      are less outraged by the police, even if accusations of
      misconduct are true, than by the protesters, whom they blame
      for an estimated $40 million in property damage. Many
      Italians are terrified of a resurgence of the violent
      radicalism of the 1970s and the Red Brigades. Berlusconi has
      said he is "100 percent with the police," and in a sense he
      may be reading the national mood about right.

      Dan Clore

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