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(en) Italy: Anti-militarist demo against the State of War - Mestre, 13/11/04 (it)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 16 Nov 2004 13:44:15 +0100 (CET)

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Last Friday, the towns of Venice and Mestre witnessed a climate more similar to
that of a state of siege, as several demonstrations against the NATO
parliamentary assembly at Venice's Lido took place. This climate reached a peak
on Saturday 13th November when there was a student demonstration in the morning
in Venice, followed by a demonstration on boats at the Lido by Rifondazione
Comunista, a human chain representing "a living monument to Deserters"
organized by the Social Forum and, last but not least, the usual show featuring
a couple of hundred "Disobbedienti", all followed in the evening by a partial
blockade around the Fenice Theatre where there was a show presented for the
NATO "guests" who were protected by democratic baton-wielders.

In the meanwhile, that afternoon on dry land in Mestre, a dormitory town of
factories across the water from Venice, there was an anti-militarist
demonstration called by the Coordinamento Anarchico Veneto, which was supported
by, amongst others, the Assemblea Antimilitarista-Antiautoritaria, the
Federazione Anarchica Italiana (FAI), the Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici
(FdCA) and the Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI), together with a group of
Slovenian anarchist comrades.

Right from the start of the demo there was a heavy (not to mention exaggerated
and provocatory) presence of the forces of law and disorder with around 800
policemen and carabinieri, after the previous day had been marked by absurd
levels of alarmism in the pages of the local press (which had started several
days before) leading to Saturday-morning headlines such as "Anarchist March,
Mestre trembles in fear" (from La Nuova Venezia), apparently due to the
"unpredictability" of the anarchists (sic!) and the feared arrival of the
dreaded Black Bloc.

The provocatory behaviour of the police was noticed right from the start and we
saw a great show of shields, batons, armoured vehicles, a helicopter, video
cameras, "anti-riot" dog squads, black-clad plainclothes cops trying to seem
part of the crowd, identity spot-checks, intimidatory warnings to organizers
and shouted insults at comrades arriving at the demo along Via Piave.

Notwithstanding all this, at 3.30pm the march moved off with between 600-700
mostly anarchist marchers (but with a few pacifists, anti-racists and
revolutionary communists too, not in distinct sectors), walking behind a truck
with sound system and the lead banner which read "NESSUNO E’ NATO PER SERVIRE"
["no-one is born to serve", a play on the word "nato", born -tr.].

In front of the train station, after only a few dozen metres, there was the
first episode of deliberate provocation by the hordes of riot cops who tried to
squeeze the marchers between their ranks, despite the fact that the marchers
were not in a particularly bellicose mood and were walking along happily to the
music. It has to be pointed out that many people who had joined the march along
the way left shortly afterwards due to intimidation by the terror tactics of
the police.

On numerous occasions, the comrades on the march were forced to block the
advance of the riot cops who continually tried to move alongside the marchers.
Against the violent, sadistic maneuvres of the forces of repression, on more
than one occasion it was necessary to form lines of comrades along the sides of
the march to block the police attempts to move into the midst of the marchers
from the side. A few hundred metres later, on the Vempa overpass, there were
more provocations, pushing, batoning, and threatened charges.

Even one journalist from the paper "Il Gazzettino" noted, in an article in the
following day's paper, that one cop in particular seemed intent on trying to
spark off an incident at any cost. Unfortunately he was not the only one among
his mates.

ANyway, the comrades from the "self-protection" service, and many others
besides, were able to ward off the attacks and the march moved on to the local
workers club, where a red and black banner was hung which read "General Strike
against the War" and one comrade made a speech to the crowd.

Further on there was another pause, outside an occupied high school in Corso
del Popolo: the young anarchist punx had hung out a banner with the words "get
all authority out of our schools". The marchers and occupiers of the school
exchanged clenched fist salutes and some slogans against Minister Moratti's
school reform Bill were shouted.

All around, the town centre had taken on a ghostly appearance: shops were
barricaded after the forces of law and order (?) had "advised" shopowners to
close up for the day, banks were surrounded by uniformed ranks and hardly
anyone was around. All had been dissuaded and kept away by the terrorist
reasoning of the cops. And then it started to rain.

By the time we got to the town centre, opposite Piazza Ferretto, there were
about 400 of us die-hards left. The demo ended in the rain with a short speech
by a comrade from the Coordinamento Anarchico Veneto who thanked everyone who
had turned up to challenge the state of siege. He was followed by Gianfranco
Careri of the USI, a representative of the artists against the war, a pacifist
teacher who was indignant about the closure of the town for security reasons
and the threats she herself had received from the police, and finally a member
of the FAI from Trieste.

It would not be totally untrue to say that, with the exception of the usual
well-off moaners, a good section of the town's population knew exactly where
the danger of violence lay and that the demo was intended to be a genuine
opportunity to comunicate a concrete message about our anti-militarism. An
opposition not only to the war abroad but also to the war at home: the
repression of social struggles, the militarization of the country and of
society, the war economy.

It should be emphasized that the intimidation, the provocation and the insults
from the police (who had blocked access to certain streets) directed at the
demonstrators continued right through to the end and even after the demo had
ended while comrades were moving towards the train station. And not only. Late
that night the police turned up at the premises where the Coordinamento
Anarchico Veneto holds its meetings, only to find one comrade who was asleep.
Her identity was checked on the spot, of course.

No-one would have bet on the chances of being able to complete the demo and
accordingly the mere fact of finishing must be seen as a relevant political
result which shows that organized class-struggle anarchism in Veneto has a
past, a present and a future. All the more so given the success of the
conference entitled "Under the sign of NATO", which was held the previous day
in Venice at the Calegheri School and which was attended by around a hundred
people who heard a good number of contributions and enjoyed the evening
watching a play called "La guerra spietata ai poveri" [the all-out war on the
poor -tr.] by Ennio Flaiano.

The following day, Sunday 14th November, more than one newspaper wrote that
Mestre had been through a historical day, without precedent.

So much for those would have it that anarchism is out of date.

Several comrades from the Coordinamento Anarchico Veneto

Translation by nmcn/ainfos

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