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Free Speech Radio News in the
middle of hell 7-22-01
Sunday, July 22, 2001
POLICE RAID GENOA IMC OFFICE Reporters Injured; Free Speech Radio Journalist's Equipment Seized
In the middle of the night, police stormed the building that hosted the Genoa Independent Media Center with tear gas and batons. They also raided the school opposite that hosted NGO protest groups that make up the Genoa Social Forum.
Free Speech Radio News Correspondent Patrick Beckett was on the scene when it happened. He had been reporting all week out of the Genoa IMC. (His report Friday was excellent and can be heard at www.fsrn.org). Police confiscated his recording equipment, his lap-top computer, and all of the mini-discs that held his recordings from the protests in Genoa and earlier protests against the World Economic Forum in Salzburg, Australia.
In a conversation hours ago, Patrick told me "there's blood everywhere" at the IMC.
More information can be found on the Independent Media Center web-site at www.indymedia.org.
For continuing updates go to http://italy.indymedia.org
Horrific raid on GSF and Indy Media Centers, Genoa : Report by IMCista 6:29am Sun Jul 22 '01
Report from the IMC tonight.
Tonight the carabinieri raided the IMC as many people already have probably seen on the newswire already. As we saw it the carabinieri started by pulling up about 2-30 am 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 building - the main GSF building and the school.
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 they arrived, (as it was the only really "safe" space to sleep) and ended up with eight hospitalised and more detained by the carabinieri.
The carabinieri, 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 carabinieri 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 carabinieri tried to take one of the IMC people but another journalist with G8 accreditation stepped in although he was pushed back the carabinieri 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 carabinieri 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 contained all of the info relating to legal aid etc over the last few days. The carabinieri 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 "assassinos" 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 spatters 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 the 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.
[note: I inserted the correct spelling of the word "carabinieri" which was rather mangled in the original - cg]
The Guardian Unlimited (Brittish) 7-23-01
Demonstrators denounce violent raid on protest nerve centre
Special report: globalisation
John Vidal in Genoa
The police raid began at midnight on Saturday with the city of Genoa calm, the streets clear of protesters, and the barricades and burnt out cars cleared away. An estimated 200 police in 40 vans blocked off Cesari Battisti Street. One group headed for the Diaz secondary school which had been loaned to the Genoa Social Forum, organisers of the protest, and was being used as a dormitory by about 50 people. The other group headed for the building opposite - the forum's headquarters and administrative centre.
Markus, a 25-year-old social worker from near Berlin, was asleep on the floor of the school. He woke, he says, to shouts and screams, doors being broken down and the police charging in. "There were no anarchists there. We were all peaceful and non-violent.
"They burst into the room wearing black masks, started throwing things at us. They smashed computers and started beating people in their bags. Five of us rushed upstairs and climbed out of a window and then down a drainpipe. But the police were there.
"They told us to lie on the ground and then they started beating us with truncheons and kicking. Three of them beat me for two, perhaps three, minutes. I though they were going to kill us. Two of my friends were very badly hurt in the head; there was blood everywhere."
Fifty-one people, none of them police, were injured, 31 were taken to hospital, and three required surgery.
Yesterday morning, as Amnesty International agreed to investigate, the school had pools of dried blood over its floors and walls.
Within an hour of the raid, leaders of the Genoa Social Forum, MPs, lawyers and doctors had gathered outside the building.
"We saw people being led out with broken legs, arms and noses. There was blood everywhere. One man was lying on the ground in a pool of it. The protesters, just kids, were trembling in fear", said Francesco Martones, Green Party senator for Genoa.
Vittorio Agnoletto, leader of the Social Forum, said: "They refused everybody access. They didn't want us to see what was happening. They refused to show us their legal authorisation to enter the building. There was no one in authority to talk to. They beat us, too.
"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 that the police had taken it [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 still unconscious. The nurses, everyone, were very scared." Meanwhile, on the other side of the street, dozens of policemen had gone into the Social Forum's headquarters. "There were not many people there," said Francis, an Englishman. "They came in swearing, broke computers. We put our hands up and tried to hide."
A spokesman for the Social Forum said: "They took away documents, witness statements of police brutality, lists of lawyers, video evidence collected against people for the violence in the past few days."
Yesterday the police claimed that the school building had been occupied by the "black block" of protesters known to have caused much of the damage in Genoa for the past three days. But at an impromptu press conference they refused to answer allegations of brutality or illegality. "We have no comment", a spokesman said.
Mr Agnoletto said: "We believe that this was a well organised attempt to discredit the protests against world leaders. There were clearly two operations - one to suggest to the public that they were trying to crack down on the black block, the other to make sure they took away incriminating evidence against themselves."
Yesterday protesters still in town were furious. "Why did the police not go to the places everybody knew the black block was camping? They could have come into either of our buildings peacefully and without problem, yet they chose not to go after the perpetrators of real violence. This is not my country. I don't want to see this," said Maria, an Italian student at Rome university. "I am ashamed of what has happened."
... message from Patty of Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica New York:
Our rights are non existent and we are helpless unless we stand up for them. Journalism is becoming more and more dangerous and still there is a worldwide movement for people to "become the media". Ther are 56 IMC's worldwide since Seattle!! ( http://indymedia.org ) Many people in the Indymedia movement are young and with conviction. This has been going on for almost 2 years now and there is not one show dedicated to this movement on any Pacifica station. This is another reason for the listeners to have a say in their station because maybe, just maybe the listeners will see the need for such programming and information and working together and ask for this important information. A show once in a while is not good enough. Pacifica is out of touch and the management at all 5 stations has been out of touch for years. Listener empowerment now! so we can have a vibrant network that is "relevant". Yes they do go together.
I would like elections for the WBAI Local Advisory board to move ahead as soon as possible and if everyone on this list sent me one more name for the list of listeners we would have "more names" of prospective voters. We can't wait for anyone to give us democracy. Have you ever seen that happen? ha ha ha ha ha
Email me with a name or go to http://www.wbai.net and fill in the form for
elections and let's get our station back and make it even more in touch
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