Monday, July 25, 2011

Lessons From Genova, 10 Years On: Remembering Carlo Giuliani

By MICHAEL LEONARDI; July 22 / 24, 2011 - Counterpunch

On July 20th 2001 there was a palpable tension in the air of the historic
port city of Genova in Northern Italy. Silvio Berlusconi was playing host
to a meeting of the G8 economic powers and hundreds of thousands of people
had converged from all over the world to show and to voice their
opposition to the direction these world leaders were taking us. Carlo
Giuliani was one of the rebels in the crowd that day who fought back when
the Italian and International police forces violently cracked down on the
Global resistance movement. Eyewitness accounts by residents of Genova
described the scene as a war zone and detailed how the military and police
units attacked anyone who was on the streets indiscriminately. One young
man on his way to the beach was beaten to the ground by riot police in a
cloud of tear gas. Old women and shopkeepers were attacked on their city
streets just for being there. This was the New World Order showing its
most ugly and violent of faces to send a signal to those of us who believe
that another world is possible!, as George Bush, Silvio Berlusconi, Tony
Blair and the others smirked over fine wines and a fancy lunch.

Carlo Giuliani was young and idealistic and happy to add his voice and
muscle to the growing international movement for a world that values human
dignity and the integrity of our natural environment over corporate
profits and capitalist plunder. His father was a leader of the communist
trade Union CGIL and he came from a family rooted in struggle for the
rights of working people with a deep respect for real democracy and

It seemed that despite lacking a completely cohesive revolutionary
strategy, the global movement was heading in the right direction and an
international unification of struggle was coming together. 1999's Battle
for Seattle had inspired the forces opposed to global capitalism's human
exploitation and devastating effects on the environment the world over.
Further remarkable actions against George Bush's stolen election and
inauguration, at the World Bank/IMF meeting in Washington D.C., and at the
G7+1 meeting in Okinawa, Japan lead up to the G8 meeting in Genova, Italy.
Simultaneously [adding] to these mass mobilizations and actions that were
making it increasingly difficult for the world's most powerful leaders to
meet, strategies for Another Possible World were in the making. Finding
its roots in the Zapatista uprising on the day that the North American
Free Trade Agreement went into effect and in the First International
Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism in 1996, the World Social
Forum met for the first time in Porto Allegre, Brazil in June of 2001. It
continues to outline and develop a vision for a post industrial capitalist
world today.

Carlo Giuliani was not ignorant of these developments, but was versed in
the development of this global movement. He, like most young Italians, had
been raised with knowledge of Gramsci, Marx, Malatesta, Sacco and
Vanzetti. Communism and Anarchism are part of the Social Fabric in Italy,
not obscure and scary as they are to most Americans raised in corporatist
isolationism, and with little knowledge of their own history let alone

Genova, one of Italy's famed Italian port cities, hometown of Christopher
Columbus and historic center of global commerce and trade proved to be the
stage where the Western capitalist police forces showed their viciousness,
and like a desperate and cornered beast lashed out violently with their
chemicals and guns to send a message of repression to those of us that
believe Another World is Possible!! As word spread through the assembled
masses of the indiscriminate violence being used by the police to attack
the crowds, and as Carlo and his comrades were themselves attacked, they
responded with spontaneous and passionate outrage as they engaged in
street battles with the jackbooted thugs that had been ordered to attack
everyone on the streets. Carlo Giuliani was shot at close to point blank
range and then run over both backwards and forwards by a Carabinieri
police jeep. He was then left to die on the streets as his fellow rebels
and the world looked on in disbelief and horror.

At 23 years old Carlo Giuliani was the first Western European killed in
the newly energized and rising global struggle against Capitalism, but he
was not the only victim that day. There was a well coordinated, systematic
and full fledged attack led by the Italian police forces to repress this
demonstration at all costs. Later that evening two schools that were
housing activists and journalists were raided by police forces who
proceeded to torture and beat people that were sleeping on the floors.
Three people were left in comas, one suffered brain damage and hundreds
were injured. People reported being spat and urinated upon by the police,
as well as repeatedly beaten in the G8's first condoned use of torture,
setting precedence for the terror wars in post 9-11 Afghanistan and Iraq.

The murder of Carlo Giuliani and the human rights violations and violence
suffered by the people challenging the G8's global dominion did not go
unprosecuted. Carlo Giuliani's mother Haidi, a retired school teacher and
human rights crusader, became a senator for the Refounded Communist Party
in 2006 and help lead the creation of an Investigative Commission into the
facts surrounding the violence in Genova. After years of stalling and
obstruction, some convictions have been carried out against isolated
police officers and state medics. However, the entire legal process from
the European Court of Justice on down to the Italian court system has been
seen as an obvious collusion with the Italian authorities to cover-up the
strategy to repress the movement with a coordinated violent clampdown on
the demonstration from the top on down the chain of command. Much like in
the United States where isolated American soldiers were tried and
convicted for torture in Iraq, the criminals at the top have been let off
the hook and often times rewarded. The commander of the Carabinieri that
shot Carlo Giuliani was promoted to Major in the Iraq war, and the courts
ruled that the bullet that killed Carlo ricocheted off of a flying rock.
Video of the shooting that can easily be seen on youtube shows clearly
that a gun was pointed squarely at Carlo's head.

While the global corporate media quickly attempted to paint Carlo Giuliani
as a troubled street thug type youth, this story didn't fly for long in
Italy as his well respected parents came to the forefront quickly to
dispel these myths. Many historians have attempted to blame the violence
in Genova on the failings of an undefined and uncoordinated movement,
[but] this too is a myth. The reality of Genova is that the global
economic powers decided to draw their line and strike back forcefully
against the rapidly expanding movement for economic, social and
environmental justice. Our cockiness in thinking that the world's leaders
would only be able to meet in very remote locations or on the
international space station were quickly and violently squashed.

Ten years later the disaster of the global economy is more evident than
any of us could have imagined and the truths of the resistance movement
ring truer than ever: the censorship in the media, the repression of
citizens like Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, the BP oil spills in the
Gulf of Mexico, Yellowstone River and now on the Alaskan Tundra, the
Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, tar sands, fracking, climate change, the
eternal wars spreading from the Middle East and Asia to Africa, the
dismantling of social safety nets and public programs across the world
through fraudulent "austerity" measures as the poor get poorer and the
rich continue to get richer are clear evidence that our predictions of
planetary disaster are coming to a head.

The promises of global progress and enough wealth to go around for
everyone if we just let the "free market" reign have proven to be hollow
lies. NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank have proven to be
nothing but instruments in the criminal ponzy scheme of global capitalism.
If Carlo Giuliani were alive today he'd still be struggling along side his
family and be excited for this past years referendum victory in Italy, and
the global uprisings from Egypt to Greece and from Barcelona to Madison.
As Carlo's mother put it this week, her son's death "has still not
received the justice it deserves," and nor have we or has our Earth.
Carlo's father, Giuliano Giuliani, put it like this "Carlo is not a
martyr, nor is he a hero, he is a young man that reacted to a profound
injustice." To honor his memory let us hope that we can all do the same.

Michael Leonardi is a writer, educator and activist. He splits his time
between North America and Italy and can be reached at

No comments: