G8 repression – open letter from Stefano Agnoletto


Richard Moore

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Subject: G8 repression - open letter from Stefano Agnoletto
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 13:55:55 +0100
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G8 repression - open letter from Stefano Agnoletto 
                  by Freed_is_good 4:18am Thu Jul 26 '01 

The following open letter records the reactions of many among the masses who
assembled to protest against G8 in Genova. It challenges mainstream media
reports, and outlines what people saw, causing them to believe that violent
(seemingly 'Black Bloc') actions were  undertaken with police cooperation.
Please consider passing the letter to others. 

(Stefano Agnoletto is the brother of Vittorio, spokesperson for the Genova
Social Forum.) 

Dear friends 
Now, I was in Genoa, I've seen it. 
Don't believe the news you've seen in the press and on TV 
It was something insane, a massacre. 
It is still difficoult to tell you what happened between friday and 
To do so, I'll use what I've seen together with my dear friends 
who were present in Genoa with me. 
I ask you to have the patience to read this message, it really is 
the chronicle of a nightmare which probably will not reach the 
mainstream media. 
I arrive to Genoa on thursday, after an immigrant's rights 
demonstration of about 50,000 people. 
There are arrival camps, many, thousands of peaceful people, a 
marvellous atmosphere (remember the boy scouts?), we discussed, 
sang and just stayed together. 
Clergy, activists, volunteers and just normal people, on friday 
we begin the issue areas in a blockaed city: 
The various groups partecipating will converge in different points 
of the city to have a carnivalesque "siege" against the "red 
area" [The place, in Genoa, where the G8 was held and 
demonstrations were not permitted] with street theatre, dancing and 
At this pont, from the beach-front members of the now infamous 
"Black Block" [supposedly Extremist groups blamed for most of the 
destruction in the city] arrive. Some are seen chatting with 
police, others just come out of police crowds. Most of them 
speak German. 
They start to break everything. Police and Carabinieri [the Italian 
military police] just stand there. The black block tries 
to join in with a group of COBAS workers [COBAS is the new Italian 
Trade union unaffiliated with party politics]. They beat up one 
of their leaders, the group manages to stay clear of them 
with some difficoulty. 
Then the Black Block makes head for the first issue area, belonging 
to the Italian Social Centers (Centri Sociali. 
Difficoult to translate exactly, call 
them Community organizations). They arrive armed to the teeth. 
The police goes after them, and demonstratos find themselves 
attacked first by the black block and then by the police, which starts 
to charge violently against all demonstrators. 
The black block leaves suddently and appears on the square were the 
Lilliput network is based (Fair trade, catholic campaign groups ecc). 
It's members try to peacefully make them leave. The police follows 
and charges against everyone on the square. Truncheons and 
teargas are used indiscriminately. 
People raise their hands, shout "Peace". 
The black block leaves the square and starts to vandalize the 
city sistematically. 
300-400 of the Black block roam Genoa, and whoever guides them seems 
to know the city very well. Their path crosses every issue area, 
where the campaigns of our movement are located. 
It's incredible. They move with military discipline, infiltrate 
everywhere, some leaders shout orders which are promptly followed 
by the whole group. And, shortly afterwards, police and 
Carabinieri make their appearance. 
Meanwhile, in the issue area where ARCI, ATTAC ecc. ("mainstream" 
Italian 3rd-world campaigning organizations) are located everything 
is fine. during the early afternoon we decide to leave the boundary 
with the red zone were we were demonstrating. 
People start moving towards Dante square. Suddendly, police 
launches tear-gas from behind our march, causing panic everywhere. 
Hospitals fill with wounded demonstrators, but many do not go 
to hospital since police seems to arrest everyone who turns up there. 
It's evening, people are downbeat,many are angry. 
Suddently, no trace of the Black block. 
At the old city, where the camp of the Genoa social forum is, 
there's about 10,000 of us. The news of the dead demonstrator 
reaches us. We are scared, tales of extreme police brutality 
are told by many people. Young men, nuns start crying. 
Many people are hurt. One old man is crying with a bandage on his 
head. He is a retired metal worker. 
There is Don Gallo, of the San Benedetto (catholic) community group. 
There is the leader of the mothers of Plaza De Mayo, in Argentina, 
those women who for years have been looking for their disappeared 
children: She says she is shaken at what she has seen, it's 
uncomfortably close to Argentina during the dictatorship. 
She did not think something similar would happen here. 
My brother Vittorio (Spokesman for the Genoa Social Forum), Luca 
Cesarini (leader of the Social Centers) and Bertinotti, the only 
politician with the courage to come here (the leader of the Italian 
refounded communist party, sort of the equivalent of Nader in Italian 
politics) try to calm everyone: They tell us not to come out 
in small groups, not to accept violent provocations. We 
decide our answer will be the enormous demonstration the next day, 
there'll be many of us, peacefully responding to any provocation, 
whether from the black block or the police. 
Senator Malabarba tells us he was at the police station. 
He saw strange people who dressed like the demonstrators, they spoke 
German and other foreign languages. Most of them come out 
of the station after exchanging a few words with the police. 
Suddently, there is a fire at a bank close to the old city. 
For 40 minutes, helicopters circle us, but no firefighters or police 
At night, one of the camps were we are sleeping, the Carlini, is 
surrounded by police: They go in and search, doing what you want. 
People cry. They ask that brutality stop. 
Police enters, but does not find anything in the camp. 
Saturday, the demonstration starts, a thousand colors. 
People from all over the world, farmers, ONGs,workers, people from 
Kurdistan... all singing, dancing, waving all sorts of flags. 
On Kennedy square there is no violence, in fact there is no one there. 
Suddently the Black Block appears. Police, with no warning or reason 
given, divides the demonstration in 2 parts. A real battle begins. 
Charges everywhere, people being beaten with truncheons. 
It seems cops have gone crazy. Metal workers ,the youth wing 
of Rifondazione (the Italian left wing party) are charged. 
Groups of demonstrators flee and are followed by police. 
Whoever is isolated is pursued and beaten. 
Many people are telling of being beaten only for being recognized 
as demonstrators. Even the Italian correspondent of the Sunday Times 
is beaten (in today's issue of the paper he tells of his adventure). 
In a part of the march which so far was quiet, by the sea, suddently 
teargas is fired from the roofs. Panic ensues as people cannot 
The Black BLock? They appear and disappear, no one stops them. 
They attack a youth from Rifondazione, wreck his flag, beat him. 
They throw stones at the spokesman of the Genoa Social Forum 
They wreck stores, set fire to buildings. Many are armed to the 
teeth. How on earth they managed to come to Genoa, with soldiers 
controlling every car? 
At the head of the march, things are still quiet. The Genoa 
Social Forum invites everyone to leave calmly, and stay together. 
We are being led to Marassi, where there are buses with everyone who 
arrived this morning. 
We stopped there, and could not go further: On Kennedy square, there 
is a war. There are many of us just sitting there. 
Suddendly, teargas is used, panic everywhere. We try to get back 
to the camp of the Genoa social forum. 
Police trucks pass us by, and policemen in them shout: "we'll kill you 
The second part of the demonstration never arrives to the square. 
They are charged by police. Many flee to the small streets, towards 
the hills, where a real man-hunt starts. 
Saturday night, the demonstration has ended hours ago, the police 
enters into the press-center of the Genoa Social Forum. 
They beat up everyone they encounter, with shocking brutality. 
All they seem to be after are documents (paper, video, pictures ecc.) 
which tell of what happened in the previous two days. 
Many of these documents ,computers, disks are simply destroyed. 
The lawyer who coordinates the forum's legal team is arrested. 
Among the destroyed material, there are the documents this legal 
team put together as part of the defense of those arrested. 
Now, even the motives for their arrest are not known. 
During this "search", with no legal mandate, members of parliament, 
journalists, lawyers and even doctors are not let in the 
None of us have ever seen the famous weapons shown at the press 
conference yesterday. Police departs, leaving us with only 
those wounded and arrested. 
No one knows what happened to the Black Block. 
To sum it up, 2 nightmare days. 
Both the black block and the Police knew what they were doing 
when they committed this violence. 
All along ,from friday, they insulted and verbally abused us 
as they did what they did, someone seems to have brainwashed them. 
And today, we look at the TV and read papers. My god, it seems 
like a dictatorship. Did everyone miss what we all saw? 
When I think that many will read this and say "you violent 
protesters just talk bullshit", I go mad. 
Please, don't let anyone fool you, find the courage to put 
your faith in our wonderful police and democratically accountable 
institutions to question. 
What happened in Genoa beggars belief. 
Some inauguration for the new governament. 
Just to give you a flavour of the spin control effort, do you know 
what the first version of the official investigation into the 
death, before the videos appeared, was? Killed by a stone 
launched by the demonstrators. 
If you think that many of the documents put together by witnesses have 
been destroyed during the "search"... the only version left to 
the public is that, "uncontestable", of the police. 
Please, forward, print, talk about this document. 
To everyone, friends, relatives, collegues. The truth has 
to come out. I beg you, don't look the other way. 
Thank you 
Stefano Agnoletto 
PS: My brother Vittorio (the spokesperson of the Genoa Social 
Forum) is destroyed. He told me: It's crazy, it seems we 
are in Latin America during the '70s. 
Maybe even he did not realize fully with whom are we dealing here. 
The truth has to come out.