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Unprovoked, Violent Police Attack in Genoa
By Vincent Pang [22 July 2001]
Tonight the carabineraie raided the IMC [Indy Media Center] as many people already have probably seen on the newswire already. As we saw it the carabineraie started by pulling up about 2-300m up the road in initially around four to five vans. They got out and started to jog down the street in riot gear and batons. People saw them and started to enter both buildings - the main GSF (Genoa Social Forum) building (where the Indy media Center was also located) and the school opposite which was part of the GSF facilities.
The school had been a safe space for people to sleep and chill for a few days. In the school there were a diverse bunch of people. As the convergence center was quite close, many people came to get information on the counter conference and the solidarity marches and also to use computers. Many people who slept in the school were participants from the marches, a group of pacifists from Zaragoza had come to the school to sleep just fifteen minutes before the arrived, (as it was the only really "safe" space to sleep) and ended up with eight hospitalised and more detained by the carabineraie.
The carabineraie, having reached the school and the GSF building started to arbitrarily beat people with the batons as people scrabbled to get inside either building. The door were closed on the GSF building but they entered from, not the main door, but one which was not secured at the side - not secured as this was just not expected.
I can only tell from what happened now from the IMC as I was there working. The IMC tried to calm people down as the carabineraie came in and demanded that all of us stand spread -eagle against the wall for about 30 minutes whilst the people wandered in and out of the rooms a bit listlessly, looking for anything incriminating - as if. They then moved everyone into one area and everyone had to sit down for another twenty minutes or so.
What they found and took was some of the equipment like mini disks videos and disks and searched many peoples bags. They also took some salad knives from the kitchen and a couple of gas masks. Later after it was all over they said to the press that they saw quite a lot of black clothes inside the rooms, well excuse me.
Apparently opposite the police took all available passports and wallets and diaries from peoples bags.
The carabineraie tried to take one of the IMC people but another journalist with G8 accreditation stepped in and although he was pushed back the carabineraie left the other guy alone.
They finally left when a women MP who was in the building came to our floor and had powers to make to carabineraie leave - due to the fact that we were an international group and also journo/press. The police left, but we discovered that the people on the other floors of the GSF building had had freedom to roam after only being held on the floor for a short time. Also the GSF Lawyers office was ransacked and the computers destroyed, hard drives taken and the phones smashed. So much for the law. The computers conatined all of the info relating to legal aid etc over the last few days. The carabineraie obviously had their purpose here, one mission being to search the IMC floor to find something to discredit the IMC media movement.
After they left people immediately checked their gear and recorded what was taken, and then the keypads started burning.
Then we discovered the fucking mass beatings next door where people were already sleeping and others had been eating and talking, many IMC people stayed outside to somberly record the devastation and support those in shock and disbelief at what had just occurred. Tears and shouts of "assinos" followed the police who for another half an hour or so were still blocking off exits. Many people outside had been chanting "let them free" whilst we were up against the wall and the school was being emptied with stretcher after stretcher of young men and women being carried out.
The story from across the street in the school was that when police arrived they grabbed the first people they could outside and beat them heavily. One of the first to be beaten was a UK reporter who was smashed repeatedly by a group of them. One held him by his neck while the others beat him with clubs. Unconscious he was left in the street in a pool of blood (later when we were allowed out of the building the blood had been cleaned off the pavement). Their intention was clear then from the start.
Inside the building when police entered many people inside raised their hands but the police just started smashing windows. One group then ran to the third floor and managed to escape out of an upper window and down scaffolding (the building is a bit of a building site under repair) - they were lucky. The others inside were beaten everywhere but from the long stream of stretchers came out of the building they were obviously trying to injure people as seriously as possible - at least five were brought out unconscious.
Later after more arrests in the street the police and fleet of ambulances departed, leaving us access to the building. Inside the sight was sickening. There was thick dark blood all up the walls, over the floor and at the bottom of stairs. It looked like several people had been beaten while on the ground from the blood patters low down on the walls. The scene was horrible. Even the ambulance staff were obviously shocked.
The night is long and will not end to day. This is a sad day for democracy.
As to the "weapons" they found in the school, the place was as we said earlier was under repair, a small section blocked off and littered with pipes and building materials etc Like us they too had knives (and forks!) for cooking and eating.
The local media and other reports have said police where there searching for weapons or drugs. No, it is obvious why they were here. The testimonies of people in both buildings, the blood on th e street and inside the school and the number seriously injured in this so called search tells the true story. No doubt many things will be said about this horrific evening here at the GSF building, but whatever happens, Indymedia will continue to report the truth.
[From Indy Media at http://uk.indymedia.org ]
'Collateral Damage in Seattle,' by Jim Desyllas at http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/collater.htm
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