Genova G8, 2001

Raw reports from the frontiers of capitalism.

Report # 5 – July 21

How to deal with thoughts and images of murder?

I am 29 years old and study at Lancaster University, have a Danish passport and would consider myself a citizen of the world. I do not really recognise political borders any more than to the degree that is required to actually cross them every now and then.

My University has given me a grant to pursue extra-curricular activities over the summer. My project, which I applied specifically for, is the movement of people expressing their discontent with the state of the world in connection with summits of those who make the decision that has landed the planet in the life threatening situation in which we find ourselves.

That means that I am now in Genova in Italia. I am here as a member of Bowland College, Lancaster University, as a Danish passport holder, an EU citizen and as a human being. My objectives here are to document the unfolding of events. Together with two friends I am making a video documentary.

To a certain degree I guess that you can say that as a EU citizen I am in some obscure way the employer of the various law enforcement agencies in this Union, and I am definitely in the category of those entities that law enforcement agencies are created to serve and to protect.

In a democratically constituted nation-state and Union you have a right to protest and demonstrate, or so one would think. But this might not be so.

In Genova close to a hundred thousand people have gathered to let the participants of the G8 meeting and the rest of the world know that there is ‘something rotten in the state of Denmark’. The G8 meet to shape the future in a way that will mainly benefit those who already have more than enough and will increase the deaths of all those who cannot find enough to eat, cannot find shelter and who cannot do anything about the inequalities and misery they are surrounded by. To this meeting there is a counter summit: the Genoa Social Forum. Many NGO’s, academics and individuals meet to discuss how we can make the world a better place. As part of this counter summit there are demonstration and manifestations through out the city for 3-4 days.

On the second day of demonstration the Italian law enforcements agencies -there are more of them then it is probably possible to coordinate smoothly- went out of control. I followed a demonstration that was a non-violent direct action attempt to contest the line that defined the Zona Rossa, which created to ‘protect’ the G8 participants from being disturbed by the people expressing their discontent. The march was amazingly colourful and optimistic. People had shield and all kinds of recycled body armour: plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and mattresses, for instance. The aim is to use nothing but the body to break through the police line, and therefore all the equipment is only for protection – it is defensive body armour. People wear this because they know they will get beaten up by the police.

What no one knew, what no one could have imagined (maybe?) was that some of the law enforcement agencies, in particular the infamous and feared Carabinieri, would shoot at a peaceful crowd with teargas grenades, water canons and eventually live rounds.

I took part in the non-violent direct action march as a media member. I am a journalist from the Independent Media Center and walked in front of the march with a large group of journalists -several hundred, as far as I remember. Along the route, down a side road, there is suddenly a burning car and some burning waste bins. Some people from the journalist group walked down to have a look, get some footage (most mainstream media is only in town to get such footage) and interviews.

Then, as from out of the blue, the Carabinieri lines up and starts shooting tear gas straight at the journalist group and the march behind us. In my utter amazement at this stupidity and very dangerous action by the Carabinieri I shout ‘why are you doing this, please don’t – it’s dangerous’ and I throw up my arms in despair in a classic Italian manner. Then out of the corner of my eye I see one of the Carabinieri’s moving and I look at him – look him straight in the eyes from a distance of approximately 20-25 meters- and the he aims directly at my head and pulls the trigger of his teargas-grenade gun.
click to see more pictures from genova

Performing literally the reflex of my life I take half a step back and raise my right hand in front of me and bend slightly in the knees to successfully parade and block off the grenade that ricochets in to the peaceful march.

What a shock!! I turn around myself a couple of times and say to my filming friend, Niko ‘I was shot – did you film that?’ and spot an ambulance to which I run frantically.

I was very very lucky. Another guy was not so lucky: he was shot in the head in exactly the same way and he is dead now. The first casualty of a peaceful demonstration. (this was just one of the many rumours that contributed to confusion; people were shot with teargas-grenades all the time, but no one killed. One guy’s leg was shredded to the bone by one…)

From then on it was sheer chaos and systematic violence and abuse by the police. They continued to shoot to kill with the tear-gas grenades and they fired possibly in to the thousands of them. One guy was shot in his lower leg and the grenade penetrated to the bone. That means that I could have had my hand blown off if the angle has been a few degrees different. And if I had not seen it coming and been playing tennis for many years and used to premeditating trajectories I would have been finito.

There was another peaceful march only armed with pacifism and white painted hands. In that block there were children, dogs and babies, and also nuns, monks and other entirely peaceful people. They walked up to the wall of shame that defined the Red Zone and they put their white hands on it, danced, sang, laughed and had fun. As they walked back they were shot at, again vertically, with tear-gas grenades and women and children were beaten up by the -by then- completely insane police forces.

There are pictures both still (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez ) and moving available worldwide that documents how the violence and brutality of the Carabinieri reached an unbelievable absurdity: they shot a Spanish boy (another rumour: Carlo Guiliani, 23, was Italian. Shot dead by a young inexperienced paramilitary police-man in the head and ran over him with a their vehicle.

When I was shot at I went into shock for about 30 minutes after which a phase of extreme anger set in. A waterfall of thoughts went through my head. ‘Put a gun in my hand and the Carabinieri asshole that attempted to assassinate me and I will kill him’ was one of the, that was naturally followed by an intellectual attempt to deal with such fantasies. I am a pacifist and I ill not fight, but the actions of the police on Genoa made me think twice. I have not changed my mind but I can certainly understand that many people are pushed toward radicalism and extremes. There is simply no excuse for killing innocent people, and I think that the Italian state and the Carabinieri should be tried in court as institutions that allow maniacs to carry lethal weapon to the danger of women and children. Needless to say the individuals that killed people and attempted to should be tried for murder and attempt hereto. If they choose to blame the state and the institutional ignorance they have been configured by, that is fine by me, but if none of this happens I will once again have to deal with irrational thoughts of building bombs and blowing up buildings. I am confident that I can deal with those thoughts and remain pacifistic, but they will arise, I am unfortunately sure. Every 5-10 minutes I see the whole situation of the shot at my head and think ‘ you could have been dead’.

I am not linking to any of the documentation and I will not. Our societies and culture is permeated by violence – both fiction and reality, both physical and mental – and I do not wish to contribute anymore than I already have done by writing these words.

There is a press conference in an hour or two that will sum up the disastrous events that when I went to bed had claimed 4 deaths and hundreds of seriously hurt people. (later these rumours proved untrue: ‘just one dead’)

I am confused and disillusioned and I am very tired. I do not know what to do?

Thoughts are flying through my head, my body aches and my throat is extremely soar from the teargas. I am restless and uneasy.

I guess there is no need to mention that my arm, my wrist and my hand is in utter pain and that typing these words is quite an effort.

Our video documentary project has also been sabotaged. We did not – and do not- want to portray violence, for the reasons mentioned above, but how can we convey the events of the Genova G8 counter-summit without mentioning the unjust, cruel and totalitarian assassinations carried out by the police?

Sincerely – in confusion –

Report # 6 – July 21

the helicopters continue to mentally torture the city of Genova.

The police drive around the streets with machine guns out of the windows and people shout ‘assassini’ (assassins) after them.

The latest news is that the police who shot dead the young boy will be tried for murder.

I can only add that the Carabinieri and the Italian state should be tried for their actions as well. their lack of control and coordination is without the shadow of a doubt what caused yesterdays chaotic events. Their lack of professionalism, their institutional aggressions and their lust for blood is a direct danger to anyone on the streets in genova.

They are nothing but simple murderers.

I hate them – and hate is a very misunderstood and underestimated emotion – this is the first time that i really encounter it – i think.

Anyway, what i feel now must be hate. I cannot control it – it is beyond my reach – i am out of control – just like a spring chicken or a teenager in love – only this must be the antonym – this must be hate.

I even hope that some policemen died yesterday. What a terrible feeling and statement, but i cannot control myself. They tried to kill me too – for being a journalist – for being to document things.

They beat up my friends for filming. Even RAI (Italian public service state media) journalists were beaten up despite wearing the appropriate press-vests in bright yellow with all the right accreditation visible to anyone.

where can i take my emotions – where can i take my despair. I came because the world was out of order, so i believe. If the world was out of order last week – then what is it now??????

Now i want to cry. I want to go and take a shit. I want to take a shower and i want to go to the press conference downstairs that should have started half an hour ago – where do i start – where do i end – how can i go on?

I am lost.,

I am alienated. The state, the system has pushed my out. My last attempt to be a good participant has failed. I am labelled a terrorist for expressing my discontent in accordance with the democratic structures.

In a vacuum.

Hollow and full of anger, fear and hopelessness. Full of hope – but where to contain it. I am an empty vessel full of everything. Void of all.

There is no dimension for me – and now i am projecting this unto you – help my read my words and feel them. I cannot have this to my self.

Tell your friends and your neighbours.

Let the frustration of Genova sink into humanity at large. Let it become part of our collective culture. We must all face this. This did not only happen to me just because i was the direct target. It has happened to all of us.


These reports were part of a series and accompanied by a Tortuga Film.

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