Repression in Genoa
'I thought that the police were going to kill us'
BLOOD WAS dripping from the walls of the Genoa Independent Media Centre after Italian police raided it on Saturday night. They seized files, smashed computers and savagely assaulted protesters sleeping in a nearby room.
This happened soon after Tony Blair and George Bush had congratulated Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on his handling of the Genoa demonstrations.
"We were all peaceful and non-violent," said Markus, a social worker from Berlin who was in the media centre. The police burst into the room, started throwing things at us and started beating people in their bags. Three of them beat me for two, perhaps three, minutes. I thought they were going to kill us."
"We saw people being led out with broken legs, arms and noses," Francesco Martone, Green Party senator for Genoa, said. "There was blood everywhere." "It was a bloodbath," Richard Peacock told Socialist Worker. "I went inside after the police had gone and there was blood all over the walls and floor."
"They refused everybody access," said Vittorio Agnoletto of the Genoa Social Forum. They didn't want us to see what was happening. We went to the hospital. I am a doctor. I saw injuries consistent with intent to administer as much pain as possible. The director said the police had taken the hospital over. He said two people had traumas and compression, one man was paralysed down one side of his body and two men were unconscious."
Over 90 people were taken away and held. The police claimed these people were violent anarchists to try to justify their attack on the centre. Nicola Docherty and Richard Moth, two of those attacked and charged on Saturday night, came to Genoa with the Globalise Resistance train from Britain. Both are UNISON union members and work with people who have learning disabilities.
They were both so worried about the threat of police violence that they didn't go on Friday's non-violent direct action. Saturday's demonstration was the first protest Nicola had attended. "I managed to see Richard," said Richard Peacock. "He was very badly beaten. He has had to have stitches on part of his head, his legs are in bandages and he is in complete shock." The attack on the media centre was the culmination of police attacks on peaceful protesters.
Tom Silverlock, the branch secretary of the UCL UNISON union branch in London, told Socialist Worker about the repression his delegation to Genoa faced: "Our delegation of 16 people was completely peaceful, but we were attacked by the police. They drove vans at us. They bashed one of our delegation in the face with a baton, knocking his eye into the back of his skull. He is still in hospital in Turin and could lose his sight in that eye."
Police also viciously beat John Elliott, a journalist on the Sunday Times: "My mistake was climbing up on a wall to get a better view. I felt a massive blow to the back of my head. I had been hit by a police truncheon. Two policeman dragged me along the ground, shouted at me and then hit me some more. They dragged me over railway lines towards a signal box where I was ordered to put my head on a steel rail. Gripped by fresh impulses of violence, they started kicking my head, back and legs. As a squad of riot police filed past us one of them jabbed me in the stomach with his truncheon and, while I was bent double, another said, 'Let him eat potatoes'-Italian police slang for 'beat the living daylights out of him'."
The Italian government is under huge pressure after the vicious policing. The left wing in the Italian parliament attacked the government for the repression. Opposition senators walked out of the chamber in protest while the interior minister was speaking.
The Guardian reported that "an [Italian] interior ministry source admitted that the raid had turned into a revenge attack by police". The fury at the repression was such that there were to be demonstrations at police stations in almost every city in Italy on Tuesday of this week.
- Fax or e-mail messages condemning the Italian police repression, and demanding Richard Moth, Nicola Docherty and other arrested protesters are immediately released, to the Italian embassy in London. Fax 020 7312 2230 or emblondon@
embitaly.org.uk Phone the duty officer at the Foreign Office on 020 7270 1500. Demand to know which prison Nicola and Richard are being held in, whether they have had access to a lawyer and what their health is like. Phone the British embassy in Rome on 00 39 06 482 5551.