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(en) Britain, Freedom* #7215 - Genoa 10 years on

Date Tue, 20 Sep 2011 10:09:48 +0300

The death of the anti-globalisation movement ---- For the anti-globalisation movement it became a tragic, defining moment. The death of Carlo Giuliani, a young Italian activist shot and killed by police on the streets of Genoa one hot July day in 2001 as thousands upon thousands from across Europe converged on the old port town to confront the world leaders at the G8 Summit, has become to symbolise both of the strength and the weakness of a truly international movement. ---- Genoa was part of a new political trajectory of summit mobilisations where the global institutions of power – World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organisation, G8 would be confronted and opposed wherever they met. These mobilisations became essential dates in the political activist’s diary. They were massive, celebratory, inspired affairs, a unity of presence and purpose, if not politics. They also became increasing points of focus for violent confrontation between activists and the state. Something had to give.

Below is an eye witness account from a member of the Wombles who was at the scene when Carlo was shot and killed.

Friday, 20th July

WE woke at 8am – an Italian theme song from a program about a siege played over the loudspeakers: it was a joyous, militant march, a call to stand up for our beliefs and prepare for battle. We did. 3 hours of preparation: mock battles with individual and group shields; Tute Bianche sans overalls dressed in armour and helmets and goggles and gas masks, life jackets, buoyancy aids, protection, yellow, orange, white, black, blue, red. We were “il Disobediente Civili,” or something like that. Then there were medics, indymedia, lawyers, “organisers,” anarchists, press….

Left Carlini about midday. Marched down the main street (Corso Gastaldi) making slow progress as the huge shields, borne on little shopping trolley wheels, were not the easiest to manoeuvre and it was essential to try and keep the weight of numbers close behind. Large groups move slowly!

We continued straight until the road split between Via Montevideo and Via Tolemaide. We took the latter, passing down into town alongside the railway lines running into the Stazione Brignole (Brignole Station), then saw the smoke rising from the northern part of town. Rumour had it that the anarchists/black bloc had tried to liberate the prison; being frustrated in their attempts by the police, they had turned around and set fire to a bank.

A helicopter now came to look over us – a huge, menacing looking thing. Chants of “Bastardi” rose from the crowd, along with a one-finger salute. We were in a jubilant mood, intent on liberating Genoa – “Genova, Libera! Genova, Libera!!”
And then the gas canisters fell from the sky.

No warning, no police in sight, just out of the blue…onto an unsuspecting crowd, many of whom did NOT actually have masks or protection – and of those that did, most were not wearing it. It was mayhem. Crowds streaming backwards (literally! – carried by the water from their eyes), reinforcements continually trying to get to the front. Vinegar was quickly used up in dousing people’s masks in order to provide some kind of respiratory protection; a tap was found and water was ferried to the front to assist those too overcome to withdraw. Hundreds if not thousands were affected, some acquiring head injuries or bruising from being hit by the canisters and bottles (yes!! Bottles) thrown from the police lines.

For now there were police lines. They had crept up the train lines, hidden behind a wall. They had formed lines at the bottom of Via Tolemaide and also at the bottom of Via Montevideo. In had now turned into a full scale war: charges and victories by both sides. The police rushed forwards but the “civil disobedients” responded. We captured a Carabinieri riot van, and it was set on fire. Demonstrators were arrested in small numbers, but mostly the police seemed bent on causing harm only. People caught fire, blood was pouring from head wounds and some collapsed under the stress of the heat and teargas. Two vans carrying water cannon made forays up the streets, tear gas canisters continually exploding around them. Medics got trapped whilst helping people, narrow escapes were the order of the day….

…for most of us. But not for Carlo Guiliani. Sometime later in the afternoon, around about 5 or 5.30pm, a group of three police vehicles whose advance had been stopped by the presence of barricades across the road were attacked by protestors. Two of them withdrew the fifty metres or so back to police lines, the third was surrounded by a group of (maximum) ten protestors. A WOMBLE saw the Carabinieri draw his pistol: lying back across the seat, shield in his left arm, legs up; he took steady aim. The WOMBLE ran, then heard the shot. Turning, he saw the police vehicle reverse over the body on the floor, then drive forward over the body on the floor.

The WOMBLES ran to assist: between them, a huge amount of life experience, but never anything like this. They check Carlo’s pulse – weak and fading – then turned the head and realised that blood was pumping out of an enormous hole in his head. Meanwhile, the police were firing constant tear gas canisters AT the two demonstrators and the body on the floor…the police were advancing and there was nothing the WOMBLES could do but run…. Back in Carlini Stadium the mood was subdued. No one had anything positive to say: just shock at the tactics and violence of the police. A television had somehow been connected in the corner of the marquee; round about 8pm a sudden cry went up and people rushed outside. An announcement came over the loudspeakers: “The G8 summit has been suspended!” Maybe Carlo didn’t die in vain….maybe we WERE finally starting to change this god-awful world of ours, maybe his brothers and sisters the world over would one day be able to share in Peaceful Heaven right here on earth without anymore bloodshed…..

There followed triumphant singing and chants of “Genova, Libera!”. A police helicopter circled over head and, in unison, there arose a chant of “ASSASSINI.” On the slanting concrete edge to the stadium, a velodrome circuit, somebody wrote in letters 10 feet high, “SBIRRI ASSASSINI” – cop murderers – for the helicopter to see on it’s next circuit. For the rest of the evening the helicopter was conspicuously absent.

An evening of political speeches was about to commence. First, thought, there was a minutes silence – a silence so profound and so silent that not even the crickets whispered. We cried with all out hearts that we could live in a world such as this…yet we knew that this just made our fight even more important. An open microphone was presented, and delegates stepped up from many countries, many groups, to speak in solidarity.

Meanwhile, outside the stadium, stragglers were being arrested by the police. We were warned of this over the loudspeaker, then advised that the Genoa Social Forum/Tute Bianche running the stadium would try to provide food for the six thousand. And provide they did!! Pasta (what else, in Italy!) for the masses…

Death in Genoa – a personal account of a UK activist who tried to help Carlo Giuliani
Carlo Giuliani Memorial Park

* Anarchist journal
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