Socialist Worker

Italy after Genoa

Issue No. 1760

  • Thousands march against police violence
  • Politicians in crisis
  • NEW Generation organises

Italy after Genoa

THE VICIOUS police repression of those who protested against the G8 summit in Genoa has sent shockwaves through the whole of Italian society. And it has created a political crisis for the new hard right government of Thatcherite businessman Silvio Berlusconi.

The police killing of 23 year old Carlo Giuliani, and the general police violence against demonstrators, sparked huge demonstrations in towns and cities across Italy last week.

In Milan a spontaneous demonstration of 50,000 people erupted through the streets. Some 60,000 then protested the following day as well. There were at least another 46 protests outside police stations across Italy in support of the Genoa Social Forum which organised the protests in Genoa. The demonstrations called for the resignation of Claudio Scajola, the Italian interior minister, and for an inquiry into the violence unleashed by the police. Groups like the CGIL trade union federation, the Green Party, the Refounded Communist Party, the rank and file workers' group COBAS and environmentalists played an important role in organising these protests.

Banners said "Government of murderers" and "Our blood, your profits". A number of protesters are still missing after the demonstrations, and a group of mothers in Milan carried a banner saying, "Where are our children?" Over 30,000 marched in Rome, stopping for a minute's silence in memory of Carlo Giuliani.

The slogan of the Genoa Social Forum was "You: G8. Us: six billion". In Rome a banner said "You: G8. Us: 5,999,999,999". Over 2,000 people also protested outside the parliament buildings in Rome when MPs debated police operations in Genoa.

Another 15,000 marched in Bologna, 5,000 in Brescia and 5,000 in Palermo, and 500 people in Cagliari were led by popular singer Manu Chao. Thousands more protested in Venice, Trieste, Napoli, Ancona and scores of other cities. Around 15,000 marched in Genoa itself.

"Genoa has completely changed the face of Italian politics," says Nicki, a socialist in Bologna. There's a new young layer of people coming through into left wing politics. But events have also reinvigorated a lot of older people. There's no time for cynicism anymore. Any time anyone wants to fight, Genoa will be the inspiration. No one is going to forget what happened there. The demonstrations on Tuesday night were really angry. There was a real feeling that violence will not silence us. There were people on the streets who hadn't been in Genoa. They were angry at the police violence and didn't want a return to the 'strategy of tension'. No one has been killed on a demonstration in Italy for 25 years. But despite the violence everyone was smiling on the protests. Genoa has made people more determined to build the movement. One sign of the mood is the story of a young journalist on a right wing populist paper. He was beaten up in the police raid on the school where 100 protesters were staying. His paper sacked him when they found out. But his trade union reps and other workers went to management and said, 'If you don't reinstate him we'll go on strike.' He was reinstated."

At the Stefana steelworks in Brescia workers went on strike against "the ferocious violence of the police". They demanded the release of one of their shop stewards who was arrested in Genoa.

Now there are moves to establish lasting organisation from the protests. There is discussion about establishing other social forums across Italy, named after the Genoa Social Forum. Some 1,000 people met in Rome last week, discussed events for five hours, and decided to establish a Rome Social Forum.


Fascists boost thugs in state

THE BERLUSCONI government is a coalition between his Forza Italia party, the anti-immigrant Northern League and the "post-fascist" National Alliance. The National Alliance (AN) changed its name from the MSI in the early 1990s. The MSI openly stood as the political followers of former Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Gianfranco Fini, the leader of the AN, is now Berlusconi's deputy. In the run-up to the G8 summit in Genoa Fini visited the city and boasted that he personally finalised the security plans. The inclusion of fascists in the government has boosted the most right wing elements in the Italian state.

An unnamed police officer revealed last week that many of the police involved in attacks on demonstrators had far-right sympathies: "The police lined them up against the wall. They urinated on one person. They beat people up if they didn't sing the 'Facetta Nera' [a fascist song]. They threatened to rape girls with batons."

The Italian police have a long history of fascist sympathies and attacking left wing protests. Some on the right have already begun to organise in support of the state's actions in Genoa. There have been small protests supporting the police.

Politicians in Berlusconi's Forza Italia party have called for Vittorio Agnoletto and Luca Casarini, two prominent organisers of the Genoa protests, to be put on trial for being subversives. Gasparri, the fascist labour minister, is trying to sack Agneletto from his job as a doctor at the labour ministry.


Cover is blown

THE NEW Italian government has been thrown into crisis less than three months after its election.

Italian prosecutors have begun three separate investigations into the police's brutality, while the Italian press federation has launched an inquiry into claims that police pretended to be journalists during the protests. There is widespread evidence of police infiltrating the demonstrations and using agents provocateurs to spark violence. They used the excuse of the violence caused by the Black Block of anarchists to attack other demonstrators.

"The Black Block was an instrument of the police-it was a clear strategy," says Luca Casarini, a leader of the White Overalls non-violent movement. I'm not saying everything was organised and planned in advance, but they used and helped the hooliganism to justify the crackdown."

When Berlusconi and Scajola tried, during last week's debate in parliament, to distance themselves from the police attack on the school where protesters were sleeping, opposition MPs just laughed.

Berlusconi was clearly shaken by the pressure during the parliamentary debate. He and his allies tried to put the blame for the violence on the previous centre-left government which appointed Genoa's police commissioner. Berlusconi has now been forced to accept a parliamentary inquiry into police violence.

  • BERLUSCONI OWNS three Italian TV channels and the government has control of the three other major channels. Footage of the raid on the school, on a Saturday night, was not broadcast in Italy until Thursday as a result.

Don't judge

AROUND 1,500 people attended the funeral of Carlo Giuliani last week. "In his short life Carlo has given us many things," said his father. "You, who are young, you want a better world tomorrow morning. We, who are old, and maybe tired, have learned patience and prudence. But we will go forward together through Carlo. These young people with torn trousers, pierced faces and broken shoes, you should not judge them. They have full hearts and heads that think."


A Socialist Worker pamphlet OUT NOW Genoa - La lotta continua The fight goes on

Working class resistance in Italy from Antonio Gramsci and the factory occupations to the G8 rebellion Phone 020 7538 3305


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News
Sat 4 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1760
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