erasing clouds

Genoa closed city: before and after the G8

by Anna Battista

"All the power's in the hands/Of people rich enough to buy it/ While we walk the street/Too chicken to even try it/ Everybody's doing/Just what they're told to/Nobody wants/To go to jail!/Are you taking over/or are you taking orders?/Are you going backwards/Or are you going forwards?"--The Clash, "White Riot"

Beginning of July 2001 - Newspapers and TV channels start covering what will be a burning issue of the summer, the G8 in Genoa. Journalists try to foresee what will happen in the Italian city and what the Group of Eight, with its delegates, assistants and massive entourage will decide about the future of the earth. Rumours go around about what the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will do to keep the order reigning in Genoa, where thousands of people are expected to manifest against globalisation.

Meanwhile, on 6th July, the national strike of factory workers obliges the newspapers to realise that things are changing and that people are ready to fight for their job, their wage, but above all for their rights. Even the workers of the Turin Fiat factory get out and organise a manifestation. "Like in a Ken Loach movie" the newspaper Il Manifesto headlines the day after, noticing how the slogan, "We want the bread but also the roses" is adopted by all the workers. It seems like there are positive vibes about peoples' rights, but tension starts feebly raising on the day after, when the police search a few student's houses in Genoa looking for explosives, while a group of people who adventure to the Genoa harbour to deliver a letter to the captain of the boat "European Vision" are violently rejected by the police patrolling the area.

15th July - newspapers update the readers on what is happening in Genoa. Being the historical palaces of the city too dangerous and above all too vulnerable to the attacks of the protesters, it is confirmed that the delegates of Italy, USA, Japan, Germany, UK, Canada, France and Russia will be hosted on a boat moored on the Genoa harbour, the "European Vision." It is instituted also what is called "Zona Rossa", "Red Zone", a perimeter in which the G8 representatives will move freely and which will be closed to ordinary people and protesters. Genoa will be blinded, the G8 leaders will be blind as the events will prove.

The Italian government pays to organise the whole caboodle 375 billions of liras plus 73 extra billions for closing the red zone with barricades. Only 3 billions of liras are kindly given to provide accomodation for the protesters. The Schengen agreement is momentarily suspended and people entering Italy are obliged to submit to scrupulous controls. Moreover railway stations are closed, a decision which contradicts what was previously decided. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is finishing preparing Genoa as a bride for its groom: antique dealers are called to furnish the cabins of the "European Vision," paintings belonging to private collections are hung on their walls, it is disposed that in each suite there will be a personal trainer. The prime minister has also decided that each member of the G8 will receive a precious present, a portable writing desk, while the ship-owner George Poulides will donate the guests a silver box for cigars: extremely useful presents for people who extremely need them. We're also told that the G8 leaders will rest their troubled minds and bowels in marble toilets and saunas aromatised with vanilla and Sicilian citrus fruit scents. And, rejoice, the 600 billion lira boat "European Vision", is gifted with a cinema which will show the bored guests the masterpieces of Italian cinema and will also have a 7 billion Internet connection. Welcome to the G8's private Disneyland. But since "decorum est" is Berlusconi's motto, the Little Lord Fontleroy of right wing politics, better known as the new Duce, also issues a new ordinance: no pants will be hang to dry in the streets of Genoa while the G8 takes place. Wow, who would ever have thought that doing the laundry would one day become illegal?

16th July - A week before the G8 takes place, Genoa is shaken by anonymous bombs and bomb hoaxes. The first explodes in a Carabinieri station, in the hands of a Carabiniere who is opening the mail. But the bombs make Vittorio Agnoletto, spokesperson for the Genoa Social Forum, suspect the involvement of the secret services.

18th July - Manu Chao plays in Genoa to gain funds for the Genoa Social Forum (GSF), an umbrella group which collects under its name, multifarious organisations and groups, "tute bianche" ("white overalls"), young communists, Catholics, feminists, environmentalists, animal rights organisations and many more. Vittorio Agnoletto, President of LILA, the Italian League Against AIDS, is GSF's official spokesperson. A group of Italian directors including Mario Monicelli, Ettore Scola and Gillo Pontecorvo, co-ordinated by Citto Maselli go to Genoa. Here they will film the whole event and put together a movie. 200,000 people are expected to take part in the manifestations.

19th July - the day of the first manifestation, the "No Borders - No Nation" protest, the migrants manifestation, passes leaving behind the memory of a mass of people from the most disparate ethnic groups parading together and having fun. No incidents are recorded. Unexpectedly, during the night, the police closes with a barricade of containers another part of Genoa extending the Red Zone.

20th July - In the morning the various groups that form the GSF move from different headquarters to start a manifestation. But fun doesn't last long. A part of the protesters get to Piazza Dante to symbolically assault the Red Zone barricade, then they direct to Piazzale Kennedy where the police start throwing tear-gas. Meanwhile a group of violent protesters the press and the authorities will call at 8.00 p.m. of the same day "Black Bloc", "Black Block" or "Blockers", moves and starts destroying flower beds, cars, banks, shops and whatever else they find on their way. Then they separate and a group of them goes to the Marassi jail to attack it. After they've passed and destroyed everything, they mingle with the peaceful manifestation just arriving. Part of the manifestation will be later recorded on an Indymedia video tape: at a certain point of the video there is a sort of funny trashy orange clad superhero who talks to a policeman, reminding him: "Anyway, I think you've understand that you can't stop all this!" But after a while the manifestation is attacked by the police, while the groups identified as Black Bloc are mingling with the rest of the crowd. What has started as a pink march with mirrors, wigs, drums and lots of dancing becomes a urban guerrilla.

At the same time we, ordinary people in the rest of Italy, are simply living our ordinary lives. Working, going on holiday, shopping, meeting our friends. Then we hear a rumour, a guy has been killed in Genoa. We turn on the TV, but the news aren't helping us in understanding what's going on. They say a Spanish guy has been wounded and the Italian newsreaders seem to shake off their shoulders the burden of an Italian protester dying in Genoa, as if life per se wasn't important but only nationality. We surf the Internet to search more reliable information. Those who have friends in Genoa try to call them on their mobiles. We get to know that yes, a boy was actually killed, perhaps by the stones being thrown by the protesters. It is only later in the evening that we finally find the tragic truth: at 5.20 p.m. a Carabinieri jeep is attacked in Piazza Alimonda by a group of protesters. A 20-year-old paramilitary Carabiniere, scared by what's going on, shoots and kills Carlo Giuliani, 23 years old, who after picking up from the street a fire extinguisher, wanted to throw it against the jeep. After the Carabiniere shot Giuliani, the jeep was driven over his body twice. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the Italian President appears on TV together with Berlusconi. The former with a contrite face reads a message to the nation, the latter pretends of being tragically touched by what has just happened. In the site where the protester was killed, people get angry and while the police and Carabinieri surround the body of Carlo Giuliani a chant starts raising, "Assassini! Assassini! ("Killers! Killers"). Flowers are brought while an anonymous boy erases the name "Piazza Alimonda" from a street sign and writes under it "Piazza Carlo Giuliani - Ragazzo" ("Carlo Giuliani Square - a boy"). In the evening injured and wounded people crowd the local hospitals. The news say that there might also be another victim, a girl, whose fate will remain unknown.

21st July - a new manifestation starts in the morning, what should be a new pacific protest. But the Black Bloc is going on destroying Genoa and people are attacked once again by the police who tear gas them without distinguishing from peaceful protesters and violent attackers. The Black Bloc groups manage to carry out its violent assaults without the police even trying to stop them. Journalists, doctors and protesters end up in being an easy prey of the police, dressed in full anti-revolt attire.

22nd July - It's Sunday. We get up hoping that things are getting better in Genoa. I turn on the radio and find a channel which is broadcasting Berlusconi talking in a press conference. He says that no, he didn't know anything about what happened during the night but probably the police did their job. We don't know what has actually happened, so after another worried search there's another shock: the Diaz School where many protesters slept and the GSF's HQ (where journalists were based) set in the Pertini School near the Diaz (the local council had previously authorised the protesters and the GSF to use the schools as their headquarters), were raided by the police around midnight. During the night raid journalists and lawyers converge outside the Diaz school to see what is going on and ask to get in. The police reject their request. Vittorio Agnoletto arrives asking to be let in, on the Indymedia video tape he can be seen talking to the police. "I want to see what you have done. Call your commissioner. This is what they call democracy," he shouts. The witnesses outside the Diaz school keep on seeing young people carried out of the building covered in blood. Someone from another edifice shots a video of what's happening in the school: a policeman can be seen from a window of the second floor, beating with his baton somebody. People all around start shouting "Assassini!Assassini!"("Killers! Killers!"). Meanwhile at the GSF's HQ, considered the point where information about what was happening in Genoa was created and spread from, the police destroy the computers and confiscate videos violating in this way free information.

At the end of the raid, an officer of the Ministry for the Interior tries to justify what has happened saying that the raid was carried out on the basis of the article 141 which authorises the police looking for explosive material to raid a place even without a warrant, a thing which doesn't justify massacring people or breaking computers. The officer also adds that the people carried away with the ambulances weren't wounded by the police, but were already wounded. Sure, of course, the fresh blood that covered them was the clear sign that the police never touched them.

When whatever happened inside the Diaz school comes to an end, journalists rush inside to find everything covered in blood, trails of blood cover the walls, the floors and the radiators. Personal belongings are scattered around on the floor of the gym where people were sleeping. At the end of the night there are 93 people arrested (90 of them will be declared illegitimate in the next days), 66 people are wounded and a British journalist seriously injured will get out of a coma only on 24th July. The police find in the school two petrol bombs, five wooden batons, two hammers and one pickaxe which people claim had been left there by the bricklayers restoring the school. The last person injured arrives at the St.Martino hospital at 6.30 a.m., as a spokesperson for the hospital will testify on the Indymedia video.

The GSF organises a public press conference and calls Amnesty International to defend the human rights the police trampled upon during the night. Agnoletto asks the people to provide material which will prove what has happened in Genoa. Photographs will show that there were policemen disguised as protesters and mingled with the crowd provoking accidents, proper agent provocateurs dressed as Black Blockers. Mayhem runs on the net: photographs of what happened are downloadable and the people who witnessed the Genoa carnage write messages with their personal tales which bounce from an email box to another. Someone starts comparing what has just happened to the behaviour of military police in Chile, others wonder if a government that allows people pacifically protesting to be tortured, beaten and massacred by the police even though they haven't actually done anything, can be defined a democratic government.

On 22nd July, while jails and hospitals are bursting with the victims of the G8, Berlusconi is happy to announce that everything was fine, that the meeting was a success. Meanwhile George W. Bush goes to visit Rome, where, while agreeing with the Italian prime minister on the G8 being a success, he behaves like the average American tourist having fun in the middle of the Roman ruins. The Group of Eight decides to give 1,3 billions of dollars for the sanitary fund rather than the 7 billions asked, besides they reduce the 215 billion dollar debt of the poorest countries of 53 billions. 253 people are arrested, 606 wounded and a young man killed, this is the result of the G8. It was a success. What the eye not see, the heart not grieve. And when you're lulled on a millionaire boat harboured in a city protected by the police and you're stuffing your face with succulent and expensive food, it is hard to see the rest of the world starving and people killing each other in a urban guerrilla. It is even more difficult to grieve for them.

23rd July - Another bubble bursts: we get to know that those who were wounded by the police and arrested during the Diaz school raid were brought to the Bolzaneto barracks where they were violently beaten and tortured by the GOM, the penitentiary police. Witnesses claim of having been verbally and physically abused, women of having been menaced to be raped, someone has been obliged to sing fascistic songs and hymns. A journalist, Giampaolo Ormessano, finds his son in a jail in Pavia after three days of researches. Ormezzano's son, who was in Genoa to film the G8, bears on his body the marks of the violence of the police. The judge releases him after considering null the photocopied report of evidence the police issued against the young man. In a topsy-turvy world the guilty are innocent and the innocents are guilty but in a country with a farcical government it almost impossible to find the truth.

24th July - Manifestations are organised all over Italy. On some of the posters and banners brought during the manifestations there is the photography of the dead body of Carlo Giuliani in Piazza Alimonda: on some banners the pool of blood near Giuliani's head is replaced by a blood stain with the shape of the world or the shape of Italy.

A manifestation is held also in Pescara, where people silently gather in the local square after having walked along the riviera. In front of the long procession quietly walking there are people holding a long banner, on it there is written "Vogliono uccidere la democrazia" ("They want to kill democracy"). The banner was done by the parents of Lorenzo Marvelli a volunteer male nurse who left to go and help the doctors in Genoa and was wounded by the police. While we're in the square Lorenzo is in the local hospital, but somebody calls him on a mobile phone to let him hear our solidarity. Once in the square there's a long minute of silence for Carlo Giuliani, then some of those who witnessed the Genoa atrocities talk one after another. The first one is a woman, who, still visibly shaken by what happened, tells us that during the manifestation on Saturday the police tear-gassed them. After having got lost and practically separated from the rest of her group, she tried to find again the others in a maze of police cars rushing through the crowd, sirens howling and people running here and there looking for a fountain to relieve the stinging pain provoked by the gas. Then there's a guy from a local radio, Radio Cittą, who saw the Black Blocs destroying the streets and not being stopped by the police. Fabio is the third one to talk and explains how he and another disabled boy were verbally abused and managed to escape the assaults thanks to their friends and not to the police. He then thanks what he ironically calls the P8, "I Piccoli 8," "The little 8", the ordinary people who helped him during the assaults of the police. Trade unionists are invited to talk, but also a member of the local Green party who compares what the police did in Genoa to what happens in a regime. A young woman then explains how she took refuge with a few people in the yard of a building where the police arrived and assaulted them. Other people claim that they never saw such injuries as those inflicted by the police in Genoa and that they deliberately trampled on red flags or Che Guevara flags. A member of the local section of the Rifondazione Comunista party, affirms that there were people who saw policemen throwing petrol bombs against the GSF ambulances. Solidarity to the Genoa Social Forum which managed to show of being a democratic movement is expressed and there's also a message to policemen to get together with their trade unions and not to become an instrument in the hands of the government.

No incidents are recorded during the manifestations all over the nation.

25th July - Carlo Giuliani is mourned at his funeral. His father reminds that a person shouldn't be judged by what he or she is wearing, by the dreadlocks or the piercing ring which adorn their face, because behind the dreadlocks and the piercing there are hearts that beat, brains that think and an unquenchable thirst for justice.

29th July - The solicitor's office in Genoa starts a judicial inquiry and publicly asks to give them videos which might help them identifying any kind of infraction policemen committed. Left wing parties ask the right wing government to open up a parliamentary inquiry about what happened in Genoa. The government refuses. They also ask for the Minister for the Interior Claudio Scajola to be removed since he keeps saying he hadn't been warned about the raid in the schools, while the head of police, Gianni De Gennaro, confirms that he was actually informed. The government refuses. People protest in London and Berlin: in the British capital, people manifest in front of the Italian embassy, their banners show Berlusconi dressed as a nazi, "Berlusconi assassino!" ("Berlusconi killer!") they read. The GSF is accused of having favoured and covered the presence of violent elements in Genoa and at the Diaz School. Vittorio Agnoletto, after having been sacked from his job as consultant for drugs by Roberto Maroni, minister for welfare and labour on 24th July, is expelled also from the Commission against AIDS (for which he was working for free since 1993) by Girolamo Sirchia, minister for health. Agnoletto is a doctor and he's also very committed to his work on the drugs front. It is clearly a political choice and its results will fall on the whole nation.

1st August - the Senate rejects the motion of no confidence tabled against Scajola. An ex-deputy of the Green party opens a banner during a parliament meeting, on it there's written "Scajola - Pinochet. Why?" To show the international opinion that the government is doing its job on the Genoa inquiry, the Minister for the Interior removes from their posts Ansoino Andreassi, deputy chief of the police in charge of the G8, Arnaldo La Barbera, head of the Digos, the anti-terrorism department, and Francesco Colucci, the police superintendent of Genoa. The government grants the parliamentary inquiry on Genoa but the opposition has got to drop their request of sacking the Minister for the Interior.

9th August: the first policeman to be investigated is Alessandro Perugini, deputy chief of Digos, the anti-terrorism police. As a particular clear video shows, Perugini has kicked an innocent teen-ager in the face. The incident is recorded and broadcast by all the TV channels. 143 policemen receive a notification of investigation.


And the days passed and it was almost impossible in Italy not to talk in offices, streets, restaurants or on the beach about what had happened in Genoa. And it was almost impossible to make a lot of people understand what the protesters wanted, protesters whom the propaganda of a right wing government tried to define as juvenile delinquents, but didn't manage also thanks to the fact that this time, protesters from the UK, Germany, Spain, France or from wherever else had been involved and their governments wanted the truth. What happened in Genoa was clearly a political act, an act of State-inspired terrorism, a way of saying, "You want to go and protest? You want to manifest against the exploitation of poor countries, of environment, of people? You're presumptuous!" I didn't know that in the third millennium it was utterly arrogant thinking of being a person, having the presumption of being born, of living and dying preserving your own ideas and mind. See, it is presumptuous to claim of being alive while the government would like you not to be a human being, but an image projected for an instant on the screen of eternity.


2nd September, Venice Film Festival - the group of Italian directors who were in Genoa present the movie they shot. Of those 290 hours of film they shot, they edited a 120 minutes long version for the big screen and a 60 minutes version for the TV. Meanwhile people can already see the Indymedia and the Radio Sherwood video tapes on Genoa. At a certain point of the Indymedia tape there is a scene which makes your anger rise to unbearable levels: a policeman beats a man in the street while someone is shouting "No! Basta! Assassini!"("No! Stop it! Killers!") The policeman keeps on beating the protester, then at a certain point he stops, looks at the protester and shakes at him his head clad in a helmet and gas-mask, as if he wanted to tease his victim, then he starts beating the man once again. Groups of at least ten policemen beating a single person can be seen, while on the Radio Sherwood video tape there are also two witnesses talking about the raid at the Diaz school.

One is an old man with a broken arm and a broken leg saying that he was at the Diaz school by chance, only because on the previous day he had gone to Genoa and, looking arrived, they started indiscriminately beating people who were already sleeping. He was injured and also arrested while in the hospital. At least he didn't end up in the Bolzaneto barracks, re-christened by journalists "the Bolzaneto lager," where another witness, a young woman, was brought. The latter says that the police broke into the school and started assaulting the people who were already sleeping in the gym and on the other floors of the building. People were then gathered in the gym where the police verbally abused them menacing to kill them all. Once brought to the Bolzaneto barracks, people were left spread-eagled against the walls for hours and were verbally abused and menaced by the penitentiary police. The police were more violent towards men and foreigners and those who were arrested were also denied to call home. The witness also tells of a German girl severely injured in her face who was left suffering terrible pains in a cell. Dreadlocks were cut and piercing rings violently took off.

4th September - a protester who assailed the Carabinieri jeep when Carlo Giuliani was killed gives himself up.

11th September - The United States suffer the most tragic terrorist attacks in their history: four planes are hijaked, two destroy the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one falls on the Pentagon in Washington DC and another falls near Pittsburgh, probably after a fight between passengers and hijackers. The rest of the world proclaims solidarity to the families of the victims and the entire populace of the United States. President George W. Bush decides to declare war to terrorism and to their first enemy, the Afghan terrorist sheikh Osama bin Laden, probable responsible of the attacks.

Meanwhile for what regards the Genoa events, the firm which was restoring the Diaz School asks the police to give them back the hammers and pickaxe they confiscated during the raid as they belong to them. A doctor of the Bolzaneto barracks is investigated for having maltreated, abused and tortured those who were brought there.

22nd September - The spokesperson for the Genoa Social Forum is awaited in Pescara. Here during a public meeting he will speak to the people who are organising a local forum, the Abruzzo Social Forum. He will also help them in defining the aims the forum will have and indicate how it will have to collaborate with the other national forums.

Before the public meeting I mingle with the other journalists who are queuing up to ask him more stuff about Genoa and when I finally manage to have a chat with him the first thing I ask is how, according to him, the media and the press reacted to the G8. "This is a very complicated issue," he starts, "in its majority, the press tried, before the event, to write a final verdict. Then, after the G8 took place, they saved us, this was the contradiction intrinsic to the way in which the press covered the G8. Before the G8 took place, for months, the press gave lots of space to the news from the secret services, saying that we would have gone to Genoa with a plane to throw infected blood, saying that some groups of the social centres were thinking of kidnapping the representatives of the police, in a nutshell they created an atmosphere of social alarm rather difficult to bear."

"Then, when the G8 days arrived, many journalists, who wrote for various newspapers with different political orientations, saw what happened and wrote about it, describing the violence of the police. If there hadn't been the journalists, photographers and directors I have to admit, and I don't know if what I'm saying is being revealed for the first time, that I would have been arrested on 25th July, in the afternoon, after the funeral of Carlo Giuliani. This is what I heard the executive body had decided to do, but luckily in Italy an arrest can only be decided by the magistrates and not by the executive body. The answer the Italians gave on 24th July with the manifestations, with half a million of people in the national squares, manifesting in a peaceful way, without the Black Bloc or the police, and the work done by the journalists, the documentation they produced on the violence of the police have avoided my arrest, and have put under another light what happened in those days. A very interesting thing is that an element of schizophrenia may be detected in the behaviour of the press in general: the editorial columns of the most important Italian newspapers were against the GSF, then, you leafed through it and you could read inside the reports of the journalists who were there and explained how things went and defended the movement."

During the week that followed the G8 if you said that you were part of the no-global movement most of the people considered you a juvenile delinquent, so I reckon it will be difficult to convince people that the no-global movement is against violence. "I don't identify myself under the 'no global' label," Agnoletto underlines, "we aren't against globalisation, but against THIS globalisation that globalises the profits and not the human rights. This is our position. I think that we have to put at the centre of our discussion the contents, we must defend democracy and keep well in mind the centrality of the contents. More initiatives and manifestations will be necessary to defend democracy and today more than ever to make clear our position against the war."

As stated Agnoletto was expelled from the commission for drugs and from the one against AIDS. "The first thing I'd like to underline," he points out, "is that we are not talking about a personal thing, otherwise I wouldn't even mention it. We're talking about an extremely serious event: from now on what will happen with this government is that if a person wants to be part of a commission for scientific research, this person must share this government's political ideas. This thing didn't happen in Italy since 1943, hence it gets us back to fascism, when, to be able to assume a scientific position, you had to sign a declaration in which you said you shared the government's views. What will happen on a concrete basis? Two things, which, in my opinion, are already taking place: first, my colleagues, the other researchers that are members of the Institute for Health who are part of these two commissions, the one for drugs and the other against AIDS, do not react. Those who don't share the position of the government are silent. There is a political pressure which is applied to reduce the scientific debate. Second, for what regards drugs and AIDS, there will be consequences for what concerns the strategic choices to face these problems. The week after I had been expelled from the commission, the minister Maroni organised a press conference saying, 'Let's stop the harm reducing policies, let's reduce the methadone availability, let's reduce the number of the public services for drug addiction and leave a free market to the communities which deal with drug addicts!' I've been working with the communities on a national level, but what the minister is asking means the liberalisation of the way the communities work. It means that each community will go and find the single drug addict and bring him or her inside the community, it will become a real market. In the commission there are seventy members and more than their half don't agree with this decision, but I want to see how many of them will actually pronounce themselves about this issue. At present there is a sort of strong intimidation and what is happening regarding AIDS in this country is simply incredible. The AIDS problem is not solved, we have a therapy which is able to prolong the life of an ill person of at least sixteen years, but we don't have a medicine or a cocktail or medicines which can destroy the HIV virus. So, on the epidemiological level, the more the seropositive people wait since we don't have a preventive strategy, the more their number will grow. Hence the virus will spread more quickly. Who saw during this summer a campaign of prevention? And according to a survey of the EEC, 50% of the HIV infections in the European countries happen during the summer months, so the minister has got a huge responsibility about what is happening. I have the impression that we are going backwards, that we are going back to a moralistic way of treating the AIDS issue. Shall we do an example? Get Doctor Vittorio Agnoletto out of the commission, get the representative of the Italian Episcopal conference in."

When the public meeting starts, Agnoletto reminds the people of the tragic events that marked the history of the United States: "All our solidarity goes to the United States and to the people of the United States and in particular to the families of all the people who died in the attacks. But there must be some room also to dissent, to politically oppose to the choices of the government. I'm not talking about dissenting as if it were a right, but as a fundamental and constitutive element of democracy, as the essence of democracy. After what happened on 11th September we asked to all the social movements of the world to get together so that another tragedy won't follow a previous tragedy. We're against a war because we don't want a revenge. Our movement is a pacific movement, present in all the continents, we are the only movement which can try to give back a hope to people who don't have a hope anymore and the worst thing in the world is not to suffer poverty or hunger, the worst thing is when, besides poverty and hunger, there is also a lack of hope, the hope of being able to change one's reality. Because it is right in the moment in which you can't see any possibility of changing your future or the future of the generations which will follow you, that you're an easy prey of despair and it is in the desperation that terrorism finds its suicidal soldiers. Today we express our solidarity to the people of the United States also because in the genetic code of our movement there is the premise to be against any form of violence, therefore we have launched a campaign against terrorism and against war and in favour of peace and social justice, a campaign which will reach a climax in October with a manifestation, the Perugia-Assisi march. I must admit that I'm scared by how many people are looking at us, all the European movements are looking at us, for the strength and dignity we have shown in Genoa and now we also want to give our solidarity to the pacifist American movement which at present is living difficult days, being accused of going against the interests of the nations."

Agnoletto also underlines the importance the Genoa Social Forum has gained after the G8: "After Genoa they tried to divide us, they want to break the movement and reform it with moderate components and present it again to people. But the Genoa Social Forum resisted to what happened in Genoa and it hasn't got the slightest intention of breaking up, even though right wing exponents tried to divide us. I keep on saying to people that we have a huge consensus: according to surveys, the 62% of Italians share our positions. It might be the 62% or the 31% but it isn't the 3 or 5%. We must be able to keep together our capacity to manifest and to build a public conscience. Every time there is a summit we must show what there is behind the summit, behind the smokescreen of the propaganda. And we must do tangible proposals as for example a campaign for the access to drinkable water, as we live in the third millennium and there are over a billion of people who don't have access to water. Or for instance we can do a campaign to reduce at least of the 50% the 800 billion of people who risk dying of hunger. They told us that they're trying to reduce the percentage to the 40%, but where are the funds, what did it happen to the funds which had to be used by the ONU for this aim? And there is also another campaign which can be done, the one against the GMO, the genetically modified organisms, in the countries belonging to the North of the world, the problem about the GMO is a sanitary problem consisting in trying to monitor what we eat and get in our body, but in the South of the world the problem is the monoculture which is the privileged system of multinational companies."

Forming single forums that work autonomously in the various Italian regions might help to tackle particular issues. "We must work together in a commission to understand how we must work in the future," Agnoletto states, "we must prepare the Perugia-Assisi march, the meeting of the forums in the middle of October in Florence and then another meeting in Venice to prepare 'Porto Alegre 2', a great gathering of the social realities of the North and South of the world, which will take place in January of the next year. Then I wonder if among the 600 associations which make up the forum, we are able to organise one, two or three unitary campaigns to reach particular aims. One might be against the Tobin Tax: we probably won't obtain a taxation easily understandable by all the people in a short time, but various associations of the world are working for it. Then we might boycott a particular product, gasoline of something else, underlining the policy of the firm that produces that product in Nigeria, Congo or Latin America. In six months we'll see the results of this kind of campaign which might help the movement to get out of its isolation, since also the people who go and do the shopping might decide for themselves if they want to join in. And then of course we might do a campaign to defend immigrants." "To put into effect these campaigns we must constitute a national Italian forum in which we must connect all the other local forums and keep them together. We managed to keep alive the GSF because we worked on the basis of the document against this globalisation which was issued on 5th June and in which we say that our movement doesn't identify with violent actions, but with pacific actions or civil disobedience. We are a movement, but inside our movement there are other associations and though we're different we try to find similar ideas. And nobody in our group has got to try and do hegemonic actions, since hegemony will kill us. Those who are against us are afraid of the different languages we are able to speak, they're scared that, notwithstanding the fact that we speak different languages, we understand each other. I get worried every time a group of people, an association stops being called in a way and changes its name in 'Social Forum' and then asks other associations if they want to join in. This is the WTO scheme, the scheme of a number of nations forming a group together then asking the other nations if they want to join as they did with India asking 'Do you want to join in? Then you have to issue a law within 2006 that stops the production of medicines on a local basis.' We must build something all together, though retaining our autonomy."

"The associations that got together in the Genoa Social Forum met because at a certain point in our history we understood that to reach our goals we had to get together. With the GSF we did something I've never seen in any European country. In Genoa we prepared ourselves for an action of civil disobedience, something which had to be done in a democratic country. When you take part in a manifestation, you know the risks you're running in on a penal and safety level, but in Genoa there was something which became dangerous for the life of the people who were protesting because there were police cars rushing through the crowd at 60 Km/h, and policemen gunned the protesters, they didn't use their guns only when Carlo Giuliani died. But the Genoa story doesn't end here. A few days before the Assisi march a video tape will be released produced by a few directors, about what happened in Genoa and it will be out with various left wing newspapers. At the end of October the work of the thirty-three Italian directors in Genoa will be on TV and in the cinemas. Then there will be a multimedia book and the book written by the doctors of the GSF who gave the first aid to the wounded and injured people. You will find there the description of the injures inflicted on the protesters. We have videos, materials and in a hearing of witnesses of six hours they never denied what we said. We must keep on explaining what happened in Genoa in the best way we can. We don't have to leave behind what happened there, because the trials go on for years, and I'm afraid that at present the policemen involved are receiving notifications of investigation, but then they will say 'In the schools the police committed violent acts, but we're not able to recognise the things they've done.' Then they will say that there are controversial versions on who got first inside the school and in the end there will be notifications of investigation also for the protesters. We know that what happened in Genoa wasn't an exception, but it was something done in a very precise way and this is proved by the fact that violent groups weren't stopped at the frontiers. We have incredible videos done by an independent director who managed to film what the Black Bloc did while assaulting the Marazzi jail, while the police was just watching them so that then we might have been indicated as the culprits. It was all prepared, they used policemen in disguise not to stop violence but to provoke it. But we rejected violence staying united, we managed to reject it also thanks to all the people who worked to provide a democratic information with videos and photographs, and also thanks to the manifestation which took place on 24th July. We resisted avoiding the pitfalls we found on our way and this has opened the future to our movement, giving also Italy a great responsibility as by now the whole world is watching us."

When Vittorio Agnoletto concludes his speech people clap their hands for a long minute. A long minute dedicated to those who were abused by the police while peacefully protesting against the rich countries usurping the life of the poorer; dedicated to Carlo Giuliani who died because he wanted a different world; to the journalists and photographers; to the people who from ordinary protesters turned into witnesses; to the innocents who died in the States during the terrorist attacks. To justice in general.

- 26th September: while in Berlin, Italian prime minister Berlusconi states that the Western culture is more civilised than the Islamic one, then, to create further embarrassment, he compares Islam fundamentalists to anti-global protesters.

- 29th September: manifestation in Rome against Berlusconi's government, terrorism and war. Before Genoa the problem was "Is a different world possible?" and the answer was the slogan chanted in Ken Loach's Bread and Roses, "Si, se puede," ("Yes, it is possible."). Today it is "Si, se necesita" ("Yes, we need it").

For more info check these sites: Genoa Social Forum, Indymedia, Radio Sherwood, G8 solidarity and protest, La Repubblica (Italian newspaper)

Issue 7, October 2001 | next article

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G8 and Genoa pics taken from the Indymedia site; pics of the 24th July manifestation in Pescara by Emanuele Fasciani; pics of Vittorio Agnoletto in Pescara by Simona Fabiola Tieri.