Revolutionary Worker #1112, July 29, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
On July 20-22, the lords of imperialism met in the Mediterranean port city of Genoa, Italy, to discuss their plans for the world in the annual gathering of the Group of 8 (G8). The G8 is made up of the heads of state of the eight richest and most powerful countries--U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Russia.
As U.S. President Bush and other top bloodsuckers met in an old palace within a heavily guarded security zone, tens of thousands of protesters defied the police-state clampdown in the streets to make clear their opposition to the oppressive vision of the future represented by the G8. The protesters went up against riot police who were armed not only with tear gas and water cannons but live ammunition. Groups of youth waged fierce street battles with the police. And at the height of the clashes on Friday, July 20, one protester was shot dead on the streets by a cop.
Genoa Becomes a Fortress
The Italian government, aided by their allies, tried to ensure that this time, imperialist officials could meet without disruption--unlike the series of such conferences and sessions since the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in 1999 that have been rocked by mass resistance.
The accommodations for the G8 heads of state and their staff were set up aboard a luxury cruise liner docked in the port of Genoa. Their meeting place, the Ducal Palace, was inside a "red zone" protected by several miles of 4-meter (13-foot) high metal fences reinforced with concrete. The Italian government mobilized 20,000 local and national police and other security forces to enforce their clampdown on the city. Many people trying to cross into Italy from France or Switzerland were turned away, and there were strict controls on people coming into Genoa by air or sea. Police carried out raids and searches of activists' homes and anarchist squats in Genoa and other cities in the days leading up to the G8 meeting. The Italian authorities even set up surface-to-air missiles at the airport, supposedly to guard against "terrorist" attacks.
As one opinion article in the New York Times described it, Genoa was "transformed into a medieval fortress of barricades with high-tech controls." The day before the G8 meeting started, the scene inside the "red zone" was like a ghost town--streets deserted, shop windows shuttered.
But once again, such measures could not prevent the irresistible force of rebel youth from breaking through and focusing the world's attention on the growing movement against capitalist globalization. Once again, as the world's ruling class met to talk about how to plunder, share the spoils, and keep down the people--they were shocked and shaken by the ferocious protest and anger against globalization.
Tens of Thousands in the Streets
On Thursday, July 19, the environmental group Greenpeace got the ball rolling by boarding an oil tanker, chartered by Exxon Mobil, docked in a nearby port. The Greenpeace activists prevented the unloading of oil, carried U.S. flags patched with dollar signs and stained with oil, and denounced G8 policies that cause pollution around the world.
In Genoa, an estimated 50,000 marched. The protesters came from all over Italy and many other countries throughout Europe and beyond. They had diverse viewpoints but were united in opposition to the globalization policies of the big powers that have so grossly deepened the division of the world between the rich and the poor. Many protesters vowed that the next day, Friday, they aimed to go up to the fences surrounding the "red zone" and attempt to "smash down the wall of shame."
On Friday, estimates of protesters out on the streets ranged from 50,000 to 100,000. Thousands started from a stadium that had been turned into a campground and protest headquarters. Many put on foam rubber shields, life jackets, bike helmets, goggles, soccer shin guards and other protective material in anticipation of confrontations with the police. News footage and photos showed protesters carrying red flags with the image of Mao Tsetung and banners from TKP/ML, a participating party in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.
People marching toward the "red zone" found that the authorities had put up yet another barrier--lines of metal shipping containers and wooden barricades blocking major streets. Phalanxes of riot police--with shields and clubs--turned back large groups of marchers.
Protesters broke up into smaller groups, and some managed to reach the metal fences around the "red zone." The police used water cannons, pepper spray, and tear gas to drive people back and then charged with their batons swinging.
A news report described the scene at Piazza Dante, just a few blocks from the Ducal Palace: "The protesters raised a deafening ruckus by running bottles against the security fence and chanting slogans as a small group of musicians jammed discordant music on the saxophone, flute, clarinet and drums. Tensions escalated when protesters began lobbing water bottles, food and water-filled balloons over the fence at riot police, who were deployed in three tiers: in armored cars and vans at the front, behind shields and riot gear several yards back, and on horseback in the rear."
A 21-year-old British student, who was at one of the confrontations at the fence and was hit on the head with a police baton, said, "The leaders are not listening to us. The fences are just getting higher at every summit. The G8 says it is trying to include and help people, but these fences only cut off the people."
At one area around the "red zone," bank windows were smashed and cars were set on fire. Protesters surrounded police vans and jeeps and attacked them with whatever they could find in the streets. TV news footage showed a police vehicle getting literally torn apart by the people. A news report said, "One police van went up in flames during a see-saw battle with rocks and firebombs."
An on-the-scene report posted on the Independent Media Center website said, "Tear gas is everywhere, over a hundred thousand people are taking to the streets all over the city. When one gathering of several thousand is scattered or one decides to leave, you can find 10,000 more just a few streets over.... Eventually we ran into several thousand anarchists having a pitched street battle with the cops. We stayed around for a while. More dumpsters on fire, the streets filled with broken glass. During this battle, a police van went nuts and started charging in to break past the dumpster barricades. At first people ran, but then the van was surrounded and was beaten back by rocks and other projectiles. The armoured van tried several times but was eventually beaten far back with thousands of protesters chasing it and yelling victory cheers. Just then another police line down a side street disintegrated and was beaten away by protesters advancing from another direction."
At the corner of Via Tolemaide and Corso Torino, one group of marchers was attacked by the carabinieri--the notorious national police known for their brutality. As rows of carabinieri poured into Via Tolemaide and set upon the protesters, skirmishes spilled into the side streets and lasted into the evening.
It was in one of these side streets near Piazza Alimonda, about a mile and a half from the Ducal Palace, that 23-year-old Carlo Giuliani was shot by the carabinieri. According to various witnesses and news reports, Carlo Giuliani, a resident of Genoa, was one of a group of protesters who were throwing rocks and other materials at a police jeep. One photograph, shown on Italian TV later that night, shows a carabinieri cop aiming a gun at Giuliani, who is holding a fire extinguisher. Giuliani fell as the police bullet hit him in the head. Then the police jeep ran over his legs, changed gears, and sped away.
The interior minister of the Italian government declared that evening that the police had shot Carlo Giuliani in "self-defense."
Many people have been brutalized by the police during the various protests against capitalist globalization since Seattle 1999. Last month, Swedish police shot and seriously wounded a protester during the European Union summit in Gothenborg. Carlo Giuliani is the first person known to have been killed by the police in these anti-globalization protests.
Dozens of other anti-G8 protesters in Genoa received serious injuries at the hands of the police. Groups of cowardly cops surrounded protesters they had isolated and kicked and beat them before making arrests.
At the Ducal Palace, the G8 heads of state expressed hypocritical "concern" and "regret" at Carlo Giuliani's death. At the same time, the authorities went all out to apply their "distancing" tactic--trying to isolate a section of the protesters from others by blaming them for "provoking" the police into a violent response. And some protest organizers unfortunately joined in this "distancing."
But among many of the protesters, there was deep rage at the police killing of Carlo Giuliani--and the whole police-state clampdown that had been mobilized in an attempt to squash the opposition to the G8. Friday night, one protester from Austria said as he prepared for the next day, "I think tens of thousands of us are very angry. Tomorrow, we can't be naive and wait for the police to fire cannons of tear gas. We have to be better prepared to defend ourselves."
On Saturday, tens of thousands once again took to the streets, and there were attempts to reach the fence around the "red zone" perimeter. Many people wore black armbands in memory of Carlo Giuliani. There were angry shouts of "Assassins!" at the police. The police fired round after round of tear gas and used batons to attack demonstrators.
As we go to press, there are reports of solidarity protests in cities around the U.S. and the world to support the resisters in Genoa and denounce the police shooting of Carlo Giuliani.
As the fighting raged in the streets of Genoa, U.S. President George W. Bush attacked the protesters by accusing them of "hurting poor countries" and "condemning those who are poor to poverty." These are words dripping in blood--coming from the head of an imperialist superpower that kills and plunders people all over the world. As one protester said, explaining why she had come to Genoa from Britain to confront the G8, "I don't think it's right that 20,000 kids in the Third World will die today" because of the huge debts that the poor countries owe to the U.S. and other rich countries.
The imperialists and their system are a complete disaster for billions of people around the world. And their push for globalization is causing even more suffering and poverty. It is right and just that the gatherings of these bloodsuckers--wherever they may take place--have become a focus of intense resistance.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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