Friday, 22 July 2011

Genova 22nd luglio 2001

Whilst the morning newspapers were obviously full of stories of violence, news was filtering through of something which had happened during the night.

Many consider the police attack on the Diaz School the darkest moment of recent Italian history.

The Diaz, right opposite the GSF media centre where I had been working, was being used as a dormitory and meeting point for foreign protestors and journalists who didn’t know the city. Almost 100 of them were sleeping there that night. Later, with the excuse that they believed Black Block were inside, the police raided the school and savagely beat the sleeping people. In the meantime those watching in horror from the media centre opposite phoned ambulances.

Many of those inside were carried out on stretchers, 63 people were hospitalised with serious injuries, traumas to the head, broken ribs … one lost sixteen teeth in the attack, an English journalist- Mark Covell- was beaten to within an inch of his life, and another was in a coma for two days.

Those not taken to hospital were taken away by the police where they were beaten, tortured and humiliated for five days in prison.

This amateur video was taken from the media centre opposite the school. Luckily it doesn’t show the full brutality of the situation. The photos do, however.

The police justified their actions by saying they had proof that those inside the Diaz were members of the Black Block. They showed Molotov cocktails as proof. These were later proven to be false, planted by the police themselves. Unlike the British police, the Italians have no identification number on their uniform and, dressed as they were, it was more or less impossible to identify them. Nobody accepted responsibility; some officials were charged, then let off… then moved to cities where they weren’t quite so infamous and promoted.
I don’t know where this clip comes from but it’s an English commentary on the Diaz attack.

An English journalist said, ‘that the police could carry out such a brutal act openly means that they did not expect to be held accountable for their actions. Which means that they had support from higher up, more powerful politicians. That those politicians also did not expect to be condemned . . . means that they too have support from higher up, ultimately, from Berlusconi"

I started my 3 day account remembering the dramatic fact that Berlusconi is still our Prime Minister.

Tomorrow in Genoa there will be another demonstration to remember the G8 that our city suffered 10 years ago. This time the police have promised that they will warn us if they plan to attack, just to let the goodies run away first and they can have it out with the baddies! Tactics are obviously a lot more sophisticated after 10 years. If anything interesting happens I shall let you know.