'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Remember Genoa?

Last Tuesday 26 Italian protesters went on trial for allegedly committing vandalism, robbery, and possessing explosives: (from "Tense start to Genoa riot trial", BBC, 5/2/04)

The defendants, who face up to 15 years in jail if convicted, deny the charges.

The trial began in a tense atmosphere, with demonstrators outside the court saying they were brutally beaten by police at the summit in July 2001.

More than 700 police, many in riot gear, were deployed to guard the courthouse and monitor the demonstration.

"We are here because we haven't forgotten," said one protester on Tuesday.

"This trial is a symbol of the fact that the wrong people are criminalised. The real criminals are the Group of Eight," he said.

The protests surrounding the G8 Summit of 2001 were the most violent of the major anti-corporate-globalization demonstrations, and arguably the most violent Western demonstrations in a decade or so ... but, as far as real violence is concerned, protesters were the recipients of it rather than its perpetrators. Furthermore, there's good reason to believe that much of the vandalism and property damage was the work of rightwing infiltrators seeking to discredit the demonstrators and create an excuse for violent backlash from the police* However valid the charges are against the Genoa 26, the most despicable events of the Genoa protests were the killing of Carlo Giuliani, who was gunned down by police, and the vicious midnight raid on the Genoa Social Forum, in which dozens of activists were beaten in their sleep. It's events like these that explain the presence of the demonstrators surrounding the courthouse.

Interestingly, Italian prosecutors have also just requested the indictment of 29 police officers on brutality charges, the officers responsible for the Genoa Social Forum raid: (from "Prosecutors take on Genoa police", BBC, 3/3/04)

Prosecutors accuse the officers of inflicting injuries on anti-globalization activists during a pre-dawn raid on a school.

Police say their action was needed to respond to violent demonstrations.

[ ... ]

The police raid on the Diaz school, where hundreds of protesters were sleeping, became one of the most notorious incidents of the summit.

A number of protesters said they were beaten in their sleep.

Local media showed pictures of blood stained walls, smashed computers and windows.

The Genoa police admitted to planting evidence (Molotov cocktails) in the Diaz school, according to the BBC, an admission that makes it pretty hard to believe anyone takes seriously the idea that the police brutality was legally justified ... so maybe we'll see some justice here, but I wouldn't bet on it.

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