Italy has never really come to terms with the G8 in Genoa

Italy has never really come to terms with the G8 in Genoa

Twenty years later, the country still suffers from the lacerations and failures associated with the demonstrations in 2001. From the split between the no-global movement and the left to the role of police and media

Charge at the G8 in Genoa (photo: Ares Ferrara via Wikimedia Commons) Anniversaries are not appreciated by everyone, let alone those that celebrate mourning and failures. Yet, twenty years later, the question is inevitable: what is left of the Genoa G8? What happened in July 2001 - the death of a boy during the street clashes, the police beatings on defenseless young people in the streets and inside the Diaz school, the torture suffered by the demonstrators in the Bolzaneto barracks - is a story handed over to the history.

The government is Silvio Berlusconi. Arrived a few months ago, he inherited from the previous center-left governments the choice to hold in Genoa the meeting of the heads of government of the eight most industrialized countries on earth. For the left of the Italian and international movement, the G8 in Genoa is an opportunity to nail governments to their responsibilities: we think of large street demonstrations, but also tables for discussion where alternative platforms to those of governments, happenings of young people are analyzed from all over Europe to demand a human rights and sustainable globalization.

In that July, however, everything goes wrong. The preceding months saw a continuous rise in tensions. Intelligence churns out alarmed reports, newspapers relaunch them in even more extreme tones. The city is literally armored, grates close the entrance to the historic center, container walls divide it. The tragedy materializes on July 20. While a few groups of violent protesters, the black bloc, vandalize some points of the city, the police lose their heads: battalions scatter through the streets of the city, others rage against peaceful and defenseless demonstrators until, in Piazza Alimonda, where two vehicles of the carabinieri are surrounded by demonstrators, from the pistol of the carabiniere Mario Placanica (subsequently acquitted of the charges) two shots are fired. One reaches Carlo Giuliani, a young demonstrator originally from Rome, killing him.

What is left of the G8

It is more inconvenient to wonder how much Italy today is the daughter of those days. And it is inconvenient because it is equivalent to admitting a generalized failure that has weighed on the country’s screwing up on itself. In those days the media fail, unable to distribute wrongs and reasons by confusing equidistance with objectivity.

The left fails, which had received all the slogans to deal with it as a gift from the no-global movement the crisis of the capitalist model and has thrown them away, finally handing them over to the anti-globalist right.

The forces of order are failing, since they have not been able to guarantee the safety of citizens while respecting their rights. The killing of Carlo Giuliani is not the only tragedy of those days. The next day, July 21, during the night the mobile police departments, led by Vincenzo Canterini, raid the Diaz school, where some activists sleep, sowing blows and shedding blood. The accusation is that there are weapons and violent and dangerous people in the school. But nothing is true and later, to justify themselves, law enforcement officers will even produce false evidence. And it's not over yet. In Bolzaneto, demonstrators begin to be taken to a barracks who are deprived of their rights - they cannot call a lawyer or their family members - and are beaten, humiliated, tortured.

A review of that 2001

A few months ahead of the July anniversary, Giovanni Mari, a Genoese journalist who was then in the square for Il Secolo XIX, the newspaper for which everyone works 'now, he recounted all these failures in Genoa, twenty years later (People). The detailed and meticulous recollection he makes is painful for those who have memories of those days and it will be surprising for those who are younger.

Painful and surprising to remember, for example, that those who then protested against the meeting of the government of the eight most influential countries on the planet (yes, there was also Italy) under the banner of the Genoa Social Forum had guessed all the issues that are central to the public debate today: the excessive power of multinationals, the need for a more equitable with the cancellation of tax havens, environmental protection, the fight against income and gender inequalities, the need to defend democracy from illiberal impulses were all issues that animated a social coalition that naturally looked to the left, but which is lost on the way. In part silenced with batons, in part self-annihilated in the inability to adopt languages ​​and proposals other than those of unrealistic antagonism, of testimony as an end in itself.

It is even more painful to remember that at the time secretary of the largest party on the left, the DS, Piero Fassino, finally withdrew the party's participation in the large public demonstration on 21 July, sanctioning a divorce between the left and the institutional left that never recomposed.

The role of information

But Mari recalls other failures that are perhaps even more serious and which should make us reflect on those who today, for example, attribute the spread of disinformation to the influence of social networks. They weren't there then, yet it is clear the nefarious role of the press and TV which, in those days, "do nothing but exacerbate the spirits, believing the stories about the infected blood shot by the demonstrators on the policemen and magnifying the warlike tones of the unwary noglobals . Then treating the repression as a questionable opinion [...]. In the throes of the complex of not being biased (but is the truth biased?), Journalism obsessively seeks counterparts. And it does not stana, it does not fully denounce the lies that the interlocutors drop shamelessly on the table. Fearful of appearing biased by telling about the failure of the Italian security system, the newspapers give breath to those who defend it without any argument ".

It is so difficult to see in this obsession with equidistance the Pilates attitude of a large part of the Italian media system that still poisons the public debate today?

But it is the question of the management of public order that is the most painful and fraught with consequences: the systematic inability to identify and stop those responsible for the riots, the black bloc; the charges on unarmed demonstrators, the raid on the Diaz school made to provide a scapegoat to public opinion, the torture at the Bolzaneto barracks are a historical truth that has never been matched by a real examination of conscience by the state. If a blitz in a dormitory can be a devastating mistake, "the state sinks into the darkest shame if this blitz then tries to motivate it with a very heavy series of lies", writes the author.

The fact that the 'then police chief, Gianni De Gennaro, had a dazzling career after 2001 can perhaps be dismissed as an anecdote. But there is a question in the head, and only partly goes beyond the subject of the book: if Italy had then started a scrupulous reconnaissance on the failures of its control system of the police forces, on its shortcomings and silence, we would have had over the years to come the Cucchi case? And the Aldrovandi case?

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