Radical media, politics and culture.

Remembering Genoa

"ogni uomo ha un motivo per svegliarsi il mattino e mettersi in cammino. Mi muovo nella notte piena in faccia al cielo e cresce il desiderio e il veleno davanti alle vetrine dell'impero"

every man has a reason, to get himself up in the morning, and set himself in step

I move in deep night face to the sky. and grow my desire and hate, before the windows of the empire

Assalti Frontali, Banditi, 1999

"Noi fuori dal greggio, Noi, Fuorilegge!"

"Out of the flock, Outside the law!"

anonymous grafitti, Corso Torino, Genoa, 20.7.2001

"Adorno Oi!" anonymous grafitti, Via Montevideo, Genoa, 20.7.2001

"Tabhair dom casur no tua go mbrisfead is go millfead an teach seo, go ndeanfad tairseach den fhardoras 'gus urlair de na ballai, go tiocfaidh scraith agus dion agus simleir anuas le neart mo chuid allais...

Sin chugam anois na clair is na tairni go dtoigfead an teach eile seo...

Ach, a Dhia, taim tuirseach!"

"Give me a hammer or a pick to break and to destroy this house, To take the lintel from the door and make floors from the walls, To take the thatch the roof and the chimney down with the strength of my sweat...

Give me now the planks and the nails to build this new house...

But, God, I'm tired!"

Caitlin Maude (1941-81)

In Flagrant Delicto

Four days have passed since the longest night of my life. At last I can stand in the shower without the constant accompaniment of helicopter blades in my head. At last I can lie down to sleep without the fear that every ambulance siren is in fact the carabinieri. At last my dreams are bot filled with faces torn with agony and anguish as their eyes and mouths burn with tear gas. In the presence of friends, fear retreats, paranoia is quelled, food heals our spent bodies, once again we can laugh honestly instaed of as a talisman against sorrow, distress and rage. Rage. As I become calm, the anger returns, amplified and directed.

Our fury was born around 6.00 on firday evening when it was confirmed that Carlo Giuliani, 23 years of age, had been shot dead on Piazza Ducal, at a spot where we had been only a brief time before.

On Friday morning we were awakened in the Stadio Carlini at 8.00 by a cheesy synthesizer rendition of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the irony would be fleshed out in the hours ahead. The stated plan had been that the Tutte Bianche would depart from the Stadium at 10.00. In fact it was not until 1.30 that the crowd of around 12,000 snaked down the Corso Torino, with the train lines and Brignole Station on the right hand side.

What were we doing there? Since our arrival at the Stadium on Wednesday morning at 5.00 am disenchantment at the Tutte Bianche, and we had not been so enthusiastic to begin with, had steadily intensified. Arriving in Genoa the previous night, we had made our way directly to a bar near Porto Pricipe train station to meet Irish friends and comrades. The sympathetic barman had generously locked us into the premises after closing time to allow us to drink our fill and enjoy the company. At 5.00 we eventually left the bar to take a taxi to the Stadio Carlini, which was the only facility with the resources to cater for those without tents. The closure of the red zone in the centre of the city had already been underway for 4 hours, police blockades held off traffic while construction teams installed metal fences attached to solid concrete bases. These obstacles obliged our driver to take a circuitous route snaking through the innumerable hills and valleys of Genoa city. On arrival we found the gates of the Stadio shut but manned, with a group of young people registering new arrivals:

What Group are You From? We're not from any group, we are cani sciolti. This is a camp for the disobbedienti, are you going to participate in our action? We have still to meet with our other friends to discuss what action to take, so I cannot answer that, but we are certainly 'disobedient'.

Can we have a number to contact you? No, we don't have any means of communication (a white lie).

Th reality of Stadio Carlini was justb starting to be revelaed. Controlled by Ya Basta and the Tutte Bianche, there had been a concerted effort to marginalise the other currents from the camp; it transpired that they had expelled anarchists the previous day, others had left voluntarily after observing the centralised organisational structure of the encampment.

Anyway, we were too tired at that point to care or contemplate an analysis, besides, we were drunk and they had hot water! Nirvana! We found a space inside the massive marquee erected on the pitch and threw down our sleeping bags to have a nap, arguing against a minority to refuse to get up until afternoon! Alas, our intentions were nullified by a sudden announcement on the loud speaker fifteen minutes later: riot police at the fron door. Without further ado we threw on our hoods and bandanas and ascended the steps of the Kop to check the situation while the loudspeaker continued its reprititious message to arouse the others freom their slumber.

Sixty or seventy people were laready in fromt of the entrance, whose barred gate sepearated us from a corp pf about a hundred riot police in full kit, they were accompnaied by a couple of civvies and were demanding entry to search the camp. Their realtively small numbers made it quickly apparent that this was merely an exercise in petty harassment. Given the topography of the stadium - the steep steps of the terrace began 15 metres from the entrance - and the presence of the six or seven hundred occupants, a physical force entry would have been possible only at the risk of serious injury to the police. The Tutte Bianche did not appear to take this in and instead busied themselves with contacting lawyers from the Genoa Social Forum who arrived rather promptly. They and the TB then proceeded to negotiate with the civilian leadership of this squalid show of force, without even the pretence of consulting with the camp's residents, and in short order came to an agreement to allow four cops in, to walk around the grounds accompanied by a large group of 'comrades'. We were annoyed. But given the fact that we hadf not slept and we had already understood that there were bosses who saw fit to make decisions for others, we retired to bed rather than kicking up a fuss. As we crashed we spotted the absurd procession on the running track which skirted the pitch where the tents were placed. The cops were indeed not interested in examining people's bags - i had secretly hoped they might be forced to make a close eaminatio of some poisonous socks in my possession - but were simply determined to make their presence felt and give us a gander of their big stick.

To illustrate the degree to which this reflected the particular organisation of the TB and their leftist allies, a seperate campsite filled with anarchists, german autonomes and catholic-pacifists had an assembly where after debate they cponcluded that they would not consent to any police entry or search. In Carlini, the decision was made by self-appointed leaders. In the Valletta Cambiaso the decsison was made by discussion and debate amongst the residents.

We awoke in early afternoon and went for a wander, to get smoke and a couploe of hits of coffee to erase the effect of the drink and the hard ground which ahd been our bed. As we hadn't a breeze where we were going, local knowledge was sought and we soke to a few elderly genovese who were helpful and friendly. Plenty of small shops were open, and it became clear that the official wornings that the whole city would be shuttered up (blindata) and its occupants on involuntary holidays were just lies designed to instill a sense of isolation.

The Social Forum was installed in a series of bandstands and marquees by the sea and hundreds of people were taking part in simultaneous meetings on subjects such as third world debt and the Tobin Tax. Around its peripherary a multitude of different groups distributed literature. collected signatures or engaged in discussion with passers by and those who had come for the demonstrations.

In all honesty, we had not come to participate in this aspect of the events. Personally, my interest was to meet and speak with as many people as possible from anarchist and autonomist backgrounds.

We ambled along the coast to the Convergewnce centre at Piazzale Kennedy where there was an information point on the different accomoadation possibilities, food, bars, legal advice and innumerbale stalls erected by sundry political groups and single issue organisations, kinda old scool. We met friends and made for the bar. Manu Chao was playing that night and provisions had to be acquired. Thus a trip to the supermarket was in order, and a crate of beer and a bottle of crema di limoncello were acquired.

Empty bottles always replenished. Crema di Limoncello, warm to the Frenchies chagrin, was put away in a quick, clean and efficient manner nevertheless. Manu Choa came on and the place began to go bananas. We jumped and swayed, laughed and sang, smoked and hummed with 15,000 people, and felt happy. The concert went on for over two hours, and by its end our energy for dancing was spent. Further beers acquired and a free bus ride back to the Stadio Carlini, where words were slurred until an advanced hour. We found a stray Berliner on the steps, a pink partisan with whom to chew the fat, feel nostalgic and lament the dogmatism of the TB and BB aesthetics. He was an RTS- Kein Mensch ist Illegal spassguerilla. Notes were swapped analogising the TB to an old foe, the AAB Null (as old friends in Prezlauer Berg used to say): chronic attachment to the aesthetics of their own militancy. Pre-prepared scenarios presented as spontaneity. Mediation with roughed up veneer and an unpleasant attachment to uniformed garb. Attention was punctuated by moments of wonder at the sheer beauty of the Italian women, no need for bashfulness where that is concerned! By 5.30 in the morning, we was wasted............

8.00 AM Ideologist on the Loudspeaker Alert! TB brainwashing repulsed with blurred reflections of beautiful compagni, residua from the night before, accompanied by cranially inserted Manu Chao soundtrack.

8,30 Urgent and extreme Bongoloid Alert! Beating of unidentified objects in a pointless manner! Alert! Alert!

Hard ground, a skinful of drink swimming round the head, and musically challenged amadan: unpleasant recipe for kippage.

9.00 AM In desperation, Fergal begins eating the newspaper, mastication transforms bpourgeois lies into improvised slleping aid, ie pellets to plug the earhole. Difficulties are later encountered extracting same items of first aid. Earplug ordinanance are purchased without demur in the afternoon. Did someone say there were infiltrators in Genoa?

Unrelenting bongoloid aural assault finally makes the continued holding of foetal sleeping position intolerbale, only tobacco and caffeine can begin to address the nervous injuries inflicted.

Tutti Frutti, Wrong Routi Having spent the days from tuesday to 4.30 am sunday morning in the Stadio Carlini camp controlled by the Tutte Bianche, I find it extraordinary the manner in which they have managed to exculpate themselves from what happened in Genoa.

Three specific points.

At 6.00 AM on wednesday the 18th, the camp's residents receioved a wake-up call from a detachment of riot police demanding to search the premises. The operation was clearly intended as a probatory waving of the stick to see if the Tb would flinch, which they did. Despite the fact that the police were massively outnumbered, and that the topography of the stadium practically disallowed invasion without the risk of serious police casualties on the sheer terrace steps, the TB bottled it and allowed four copsto make an accompanied tour of the stadium. They did not actually effect a search, and obviously had no interest in doing so.

2. The 'civil disobedience' action on friday was the greates tactical farce I've witnessed in recent times. Twelve thousand particpants made their way by the train line to Brignole station, where massed lines of riot police awaited them. Protestors without shields and padding were told to get away from the front. Thankless for their solicitation about our health, we made our way past the objections of their stewards down a side street to the Piazza Alimeda..... and Abracadebra! what did we find but between 1000 and 15000 people fighting the police having spontaneously opened up another front beyond the site of the planned performance.

12,000 people. Two thirds of them marooned half a mile from the action, with only the repeated salvos of tear gas to keep them busy. Many of them wearing these ludicrous plastic bottles and other absurd regalia which the TB have popularised; full sartorial style, including gas masks and goggles which those actually doing something could have used.

Had any flexibility or tactical intelligence been given liberty, three bloccks would have been formed, new fronts opened and a new situation exponmentially more difficul for police management would have been created..

Instead they sent people back up the hill.

In the meantime TBistas spread rumours that 'anarchists' had trashed the Genoa Social Forum and the Stadio Carlini. Neither had been touched. The willingness to accept such calumn TB milieu. Curiously this was the only information I received about the innumerable other actions in the city that afternoon.

That night they told people that the G8 had been cancelled, when in fact there had only been a proposal, one never acted upon. They danced to Bandiera Rossa.

We didn't dance and we didn't laugh. Carlo Giuliani was dead. We had been chased back to the Stadio with our tails between our legs.

3. If the first incident can be put down to their cwntralised organisational structure and the second to the irrational dynamics of a street situation which often do not make for clear thinking, the last is basically unforgiveable.

On the friday there had been about 6,000 people in the Carlini stadium. During the chaos of saturday, the demonstartion was repeatedly fragmented, which meant that there was people all over the city in splintered groups. Their stuff was in the stadium, presumed to be sound if not necessarily safe. On the saturday night, the TB abandoned the camp. We got back to find a scene of devastation; everything was wrecked, people's bags had been looted and the drunk, high and insane had taken over the administration. Evidently not partisans of TB, there is a claim that they were junkies rounded up and directed by the police to a spot spot for plunder after the organisers of the 'multitudes' had decided to split the scene. I found several of my own possessions in the hands of one particularly smacked out character, and duely reappropriated them. The same cannot be said for many others who must have lost everything. Some, hearing what had happened and fearful of police arrest in the stadium simply abandoned everything.

"Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is always an orphan." Count Ciano

Sensationalised accounts of the black block and insurrectionalists dominated the media coverage from the friday afternoon. This suited basically everyone else; distracting attention from the TB' ill-prepared adventure; legitimising the police savagery in the eye of the public. Much has been made of the presence of police provacateurs dressed in black, smashing shops, firing shots over the demonstration etc. But the police can always do this, irrespective of the funereal dress sense of some of our anarchist comrades which I must admit I haven't for a long time myself. But obsessing about the black block has become an avatar for an unwillingness to confront the reality that the practices of democratic protest and TB civil disobedience simply had no ripost to the state's monopoly on force unleashed. Wu Ming's studied silence on the matter, after having defended the tactics and strategy of the TB in the strongest terms is notable. Quite right, easier to continue to continue yapping about the BB than face up to a responsibility which you share.

Furthermore whilst I belive that the events thoroughly discredited the politics and practice of the TB, I can state without doubt that many of its adherents are dedicated, unthinkably brave and are smart enough to work out themselves that a whole revision is imperative.

So, the invesctive delivered with appropriate weight and to the correct address, my summation of the anarchists will be brief. The whole reason for my unhappy experience with the TB derives from the incredibly poor level of organisation of the anarchist groups. On both wednesday and thursday evening we spoke with french and irish friends about the plan for action and received reports of the organisational meetings. The ingenious conclusion of the latter was to set a midday meeting at a campsite on the friday. Brilliant! Let's go to war in the morning, I'll see you in front of the shops dressed in black and carrying a cudgel!! In fairness this also resulted from the fact that the final meeting never happened; intended to take place outdoors, that night there was an torrent of rain of biblical proportions (The TB actually called the fire brigade to deal with the inundation! Smash the state!). The following morning a group of 3-400 anarchists based in the Pinelli social centre actuqally got shut in by the police, which shows that not only the 'best laid' of plans goes astray. No shopping. Our french friends were neither impressed nor amused, and we felt quite exasperated. We decided to go with the TB and see what would happen, the Gallic did their own thing .

We were not the only ones of a libertarian sensibility to make this choice. The shining star of the events for me was the beautiful if hellish scene on Piazza Alimeda and the roads below it on the friday afternoon where many TBers, anarchists and a world of freelancers combined in harmony. But that the site was where Carlo Giuliani exhaled his last breath encases it forever in tragedy. All those who made their way down Via Montivideo that afternoon away from the formailsed theatre of conflict know that it could as easily have been them, had they the courage to take up a fire extinguisher to try to stop a Carabiniere from shooting their companions.

The procession made its way down the Corso Torino, a broad four lane road, split in the middle bt ram lines. Today there were no trams. The huge crowd stetched back to the bend to Carlini for about half a mile, the sounds belting out of the organisers' truck must have been totaly inaudible back there, even if the vehicle was in fact located some hundred meters from the front. Excitement pulstaed through the crowd, ecstatic at its own size. The sun burned down upon us. I shook my head watching a slim young woman wearing a plumber's hat cradle a chillum in her hand, periodically drawing huge lungful's of marijuana into her lungs then disappearing in a swirling exhalation of smoke. Not how I choose to face the police, myself.

Advancing down the hill, we soon realised how easily we would lose each other, and thus chose a large inflatable carrot as a point of congregation. Some fifty meters from the police they loosed their first fusillade of tear gas into the throng, first at the shields in front, then deep into the ranks of the demonstrators. A convulsion siezed us as the panic commenced. Joined by hand we attempted to remain together and move towards the side to escape the blind surge backwards, but the chain became unshackled as the gas worked its way into our eyes and mouth, sending tears down the face and the chest spluttering, so that in a moment as I gathered myself I was alone.

After the initial salvoes, those left on or near the front lines calmed. Sapper withs gloves gathered the stemaing gas cannisters and flung them back to the police lines, or ove the irown fence which faced onto the railway yards. Bandanas were drenched in acids and used to filtrate the polluted air. T-shirts tied across the back by the arms, served both conceal identity and to keep the gas off most of the skin. The die was cast, notions of peaceful disobedience consigned to the wind, and a long streetbattle commenced.

Periodically, the fear which had dissipated on our revival in Rome, returned as a choking paranoia. Memoryb of the ferocity of the police assault was easily reawakened. In Bologna - deisgnated some months previously as the anarchists home - we discovered that the owners of all the local cybercafe had been instructed to demand, and take note of, official identity papers of all foreign visitors. This was agood ten days after the events in Genoa and Bologna is always deadly quiet and sleepy at that time of year, as the humidity makes it uncomfortable and the students leave the town as the University is closed until October.

Whilst travelling on the train south from Chiavari, we had spent some time getting straight a story should we be interrogated by the police. Fortunately, we had not undergone an identity contgrol at any point during our stay in Genoa, leaving us free to lie as we pleased. Of course it was unnecessary and we were never stopped. But the daily news of fresh arrests, the continuing imprisonment of our friend in Pavia, accounts of police surveillance on thos einstrumental in porganising regional protests against the police violence, and the occasional hostile gaze kept us on our toes and was a constant suggestion thta we should think of ourselves as fugitives.

A flag in favour of world peace jettisoned as the riot squad piled into the demonstration on the waterfront, to be recovered by a young man from Sicily who used it as a cloak and had little sympathy with pacifism at all.

Given the circumstances, anarchist groups acquitted themselves rather well ( 34 banks and a prison!). But given the scale of the disturbances around the city that energy might have had more ambition. I suggest that Piazza Alimeda was the right target for that ambition. Anarchists shouldn't box themselves off, either by dress or in practice.

We returned on saturday. Rome was great, Anastasia and Marino were just the people to relax with... R. came down as well and enjoyed himself thoroughly. Of course I said hello to Alessanda for you; she's in great form, being on sick leave and about to leave for Costa Rica, it was lovely to see her and the other pals, I can even get on with her boyfriend now! Indeed I recall inviting them to Ireland! Blasphemy!

Despite all the great company though, it was difficult to feel that we were on holiday after all that had happened. News every day. Horror. Calling Joe Moffatt's girlfriend, lawyer, Aileen, trying to see if we could do anything for him. Apparently they're going to release him today, straight into the arms of a deportation order no doubt. Bastards. Fergal L.' s austrian theatre buddies are still locked up as well, framed. Ricka nd Rebecca were, as you may know, arrested trying to leave Genoa again on the Thursday; they were the last abducted and charged with being part of the 'black block'. If only they could see his craftsmanship with camera, they'd believe otherwise, but happily they'll never see his footage.more sorrow

Becky: the heart wants to forget but the eye will not allow it. I recognised her immediately as she came across the square with a guitar in her hand. One nightears before, when I had lived in Bologna, we had gone to a newly occupied palazzo for a concert. The interior of the building was magnificent, and the walls of the room where the band played was covered in frescoes. Lingering at the end of the gig, we found ourselves sitting in a group of ten or twelve in the cortyard, chugging wine and singing songs to accompany our friend Dylan on the guitar. At a certain point, all the racket raised the heckles of some of the occupants, who to be fair were in the midst of barricading the doors in anticipation of a dawn eviction raid. An argument commenced that proceeded quite calmly at first and degenrated quickly, particularly with the arrival of a rather tall and psychotic fellow who had evidently taken on the role of being the collective's fists. One of the more belligerent memeber sof our coterie was a yound english woman called becky, obviously hailing from the traveller universe, whowas pissed drunk and had a cat in tow that she showed great affection for. She ended up getting a kick from this looney-tunes which sent the 'gatto' into the air, at whicj poijnt she became enraged. Anxious to smother the situation before it escalated into a bloodbath, I remonstrated with our new acquanintance Norman Bates and settled things with hiscompanion and minder. We left shortly afterwards for Nicky's, and Beckky accompanied us, seeing as it was plain that she had nowhere to go.

Some women are slim, but Becky was thin. Her skin bore more than the occasional scar and scab. She was pretty somehow, despite her blemishes, and she was warm. Her story was that she had been living outside of Pisa in a truck withn her boyfriend, but had run away after he had beaten her up. Lots of english crusties lived in that area, a s the Mutoid waste Company had put Pisa on the map of the traveller scene through their involvement in the social center Machia Nera. Although young, she ahd already seen a lot of brutality.

As she made her away across the square where we sat drinking, the rumour of memory stirred and whispered. In a long white skirt, and wearing a hat, she must have looked the height of elegance one time. Now she was emaciated, with more resemblance to a ghost than the living. Difficult to describe how shocked we were. Her mind had suffered and she reatined a strange dispassionate distance in her speech. The damage inflicted to her physically and mentally suggested long term heroine addiction, but there was alertness to her which smack would have destryed. I reminded her of the previous occasion that we had met, and she obviously recalled it perfectly as there was no suprise in her eyes. We drank for a while. Eventually when we left, she said goodbye,and did not even ask us where we were going or if we could spot her any money, she didn't appear to have even the will to make that attempt to survive.

Byt just before our leaving, she became excited for a moment and demanded my attention. Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a series of printouts from a computer: the pages contained directions and advice for those who wanted to partcipate in demonstrations as a nurse, and involved a full breakdown of the tools in the police arsenal and the best means for treatments of each. Tears welled up somehwere in my chest. No need for another augury, it was time to leave Italy.

Anyway we thought it'd be better to get back home, seeing as lying on the beach wasn't really a viable fantasy.

I'm trying to write up an account of the days, both for myself and to try to reflect intelligently as to where it goes from here. Some say Brussels, I'm not sure. If you have the time you might be interested in the following article and the others listed at the bottom of the page. http://squat.net/eurodusnie/nieuws/stophoppen.htm http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2001/0725/opt1.htm http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2001/0801/opt1.htm http://squat.net/eurodusnie/nieuws/stophoppen.htm http://irlnet.com/aprn/current/news/26geno.html http://www.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=57967&group=webcast - nytimes art http://www.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=57921&group=webcast ger and It cops http://www.wumingfoundation.com/english/giap_en.htm

http://alternet.org/issues/index.html?IssueAreaID=21 http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,69 03,529075,00.html http://indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=57735 http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/grassroots/featured/2001/g8sgeorge.html

http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos07166.html la republica

http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos07143.html el paso

http://eurodusnie.nl http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos07247.html john blair