www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Battered Summit-Hoppers Cordially Overlooked
Bruce Sterling on Sun, 12 Jan 2003 20:16:34 +0100 (CET)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Battered Summit-Hoppers Cordially Overlooked


*I don't get it about this.  You would think that *somebody*
would be thrilled to point out that a bunch of slumbering
leftists were pounced on by a conspiracy of cops that
beat the daylights out of them.  One would expect
some triumphalist sentiment here on the part of FOX News,
let's say.

*Hundreds of thousands if not millions of people
must know that this happened.  I mean, I know it,
and if you read this, then you know it if you didn't
already, and there must be Genoa vets who are still limping and
missing teeth...  What's with the strange social
barricade here that somehow sees to it that
this never becomes conventional news?  It's just odd.   -- bruces

From: Dan Clore <clore {AT} columbia-center.org>
Date: Sun Jan 12, 2003  01:25:50 AM US/Central
To: "smygo {AT} egroups.com" <smygo {AT} yahoogroups.com>
Subject: [smygo] Media Missing New Evidence about Genoa Violence
Reply-To: smygo {AT} yahoogroups.com

News for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

FAIR  Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
112 W. 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

MEDIA ADVISORY:
Media Missing New Evidence About Genoa Violence

January 10, 2003

Police in Genoa, Italy have admitted to fabricating evidence
against globalization activists in an attempt to justify
police brutality during protests at the July 2001 G8 Summit.
In searches of the Nexis database, FAIR has been unable to
find a single mention of this development in any major U.S.
newspapers or magazines, national television news shows or
wire service stories.

According to reports from the BBC and the German wire
service Deutsche Presse-Agentur (1/7/03, 1/8/03), a senior
Genoa police officer, Pietro Troiani, has admitted that
police planted two Molotov cocktails in a school that was
serving as a dormitory for activists from the Genoa Social
Forum. The bombs were apparently planted in order to justify
the police force's brutal July 22 raid on the school.
According to the BBC, the bombs had in fact been found
elsewhere in the city, and Troijani now says planting them
at the school was a "silly" thing to do.

The BBC and DPA also report that another senior officer has
admitted to faking the stabbing of a police officer in order
to frame protesters. These revelations have emerged over the
course of a parliamentary inquiry into police conduct that
was initiated by the Italian government under pressure from
"domestic and international outrage over the blood-soaked G8
summit in Genoa" (London Guardian, 7/31/01). Three police
chiefs have been transferred and at least 77 officers have
been investigated on brutality charges.

An "embarrassing" inquiry

More than 100,000 people participated in the 2001 Genoa
protests, most of them peacefully. Italian authorities,
however, prepared for the protests by ordering 200 body bags
and designating a room at the Genoa hospital as a temporary
morgue (BBC, 6/21/01). Twenty thousand police and troops
were on hand, armed with tear gas, water cannon and military
hardware as authorities enclosed part of the city in a
so-called "ring of steel," with many railways and roads
closed and air traffic shut down.

The U.S. press routinely gloss over this militaristic
response, instead invoking the demonstrations as proof of
the threat posed by globalization activists. Even the
killing of Carlo Giuliani -- a protester who was shot in the
head, run over and killed by police after he threw a fire
extinguisher at a police vehicle -- is recounted by U.S.
media as a timely "lesson" for activists that, as Time
magazine put it, "You reap what you sow" (7/30/01).

As FAIR documented at the time (FAIR Action Alert, 7/26/01),
most U.S. media responded to the violence with
sensationalistic reports on the drama "in the streets of
this gritty port city" (ABC World News Tonight, 7/20/01),
but showed little curiosity about fundamental questions,
such as why Italian forces were armed with live ammunition.
(As for the substantive political concerns motivating the
protests, they were all but ignored).

The July 22 police raid which has become a focus of Italy's
parliamentary inquiry was carried out on the headquarters of
the Genoa Social Forum -- the umbrella group coordinating
the protests -- and the neighboring Independent Media Center
(IMC).

It received largely indifferent coverage in the U.S., but
reports in independent and non-U.S. media indicated that
some 200 police officers brutally beat sleeping activists in
an attack that led to more than a dozen of the arrestees
being carried out on stretchers, some unconscious (Guardian,
7/24/01). Of the 93 people arrested at the school, 72
suffered injuries. All were eventually released without
charge (DPA, 1/8/03).

The coverage of this attack on the nightly newscasts of the
U.S.'s three major broadcast networks was instructive. At
first, ABC World News Tonight did not report the raid at
all. CBS Evening News (7/22/01) mentioned it in passing,
with the reporter noting almost approvingly that "the
tactics were heavy-handed, but the streets were quiet
today." Commendably, NBC Nightly News (7/22/01) devoted more
significant attention to the attack and reported organizers'
claim that all the arrestees had been non-violent and were
"the latest victims of police brutality."

A couple of weeks later, it emerged that some of the victims
were American. The three nightly newscasts then showed
somewhat more attention to the issue of police brutality,
running reports that included footage of the blood splashed
on the floors and walls of the school (ABC, 8/8/01; CBS and
NBC 8/11/01). CBS distinguished itself poorly again by
introducing its follow-up report with excuses: "However
provoked the Italian police were during the rioting around
last month's summit in Genoa, their behavior has become the
subject of an embarrassing domestic inquiry in Italy."

Embarrassing is one word for it. Amnesty International found
a few others, saying that police at the summit seemed to
show "scant concern" for human rights (The Wire, September
2001). Amnesty characterized the arrests at the school as
illegal and cited reports that detainees were "slapped,
kicked, punched and spat on and subjected to verbal abuse,
sometimes of an obscene sexual nature.... deprived of food,
water and sleep for lengthy periods, made to line up with
their faces against the wall and remain for hours
spread-eagled, and beaten if they failed to maintain this
position." In addition, "some were apparently threatened
with death and, in the case of female detainees, rape."
Detainees also reported being denied prompt access to
lawyers and medical care.

Discrediting the left

The new admissions from Italian police that they attempted
to frame activists in order to justify their own violence
are very significant, but there was other, earlier evidence
of misconduct that reporters could have followed up.

Much of this evidence was documented by Rory Carroll, a
reporter for the London Guardian newspaper. He reported as
early as July 24, 2001 that "an interior ministry source"
had admitted that "the raid had turned into a revenge attack
by police." In the same story, Carroll reported a claim from
the Genoa Social Forum that "the homemade bombs were
probably planted."

Another story by Carroll (Guardian, 7/23/01) focused on
allegations that segments of the supposedly anarchist "black
block" in Genoa -- the group most often held up as proof
that globalization activists are violent -- were in fact
provocateurs from European security forces. Groups of
black-clad people "burned buildings, ransacked shops and
attacked banks with crowbars and scaffolding" during the
protests, reported Carroll. Some attacked journalists,
"smashing their equipment and tearing up their notebooks."
Yet "few, if any" of these people were arrested, and local
activists seemed not to know the people involved.

The Guardian quoted Francesco Martone, a Green Party senator
for Genoa, alleging that police and neo-fascists "worked
together to infiltrate the genuine protesters" and discredit
the left. It also quoted an Italian communist MP, Luigi
Malabarba: "I saw groups of German and French people dressed
as demonstrators in black with iron bars inside the police
station near the Piazza di Kennedy. Draw your own
conclusions."

"Violent protests"

Despite the numerous questions about who instigated most of
the violence in Genoa, "Genoa" has become a kind of
shorthand for "violent protesters" in mainstream media.

For instance, it was common for mainstream news stories to
link activists gathering to protest the June 2002 G8 Summit
in Banff, Canada, to the supposedly dangerous demonstrators
of Genoa. The New York Times (6/27/02) described Canada's
extreme security measures as a response to Genoa, "where
violent protesters battled the police." But what about the
violent police? Many outlets simply write them out of the
story.

To continue with the New York Times -- though they're far
from the only outlet at fault-- consider the paper's
coverage of a massive November anti-war march in Florence.
Framing the story (11/10/02) with warnings about government
fears of "a reprise of the bloodshed and chaos" of Genoa,
the Times stated that officials were "still haunted by that
melee," and that officials had debated whether to permit
demonstrations at all. With such partial information, a
reader might naturally -- and incorrectly -- assume that
most of the violence was caused by out-of-control
protesters.

Just last month (12/15/02), the New York Times ran an
article about the lingering impact of the protests, stating
that for over a year, Italy "has been haunted by the violent
clashes between the police and antiglobalization
protesters." It's a reasonable premise, except that the
Times' selective reporting suggested that protesters bear
all the blame. Amazingly, the article noted the prosecutions
of 11 people recently arrested for looting and property
damage during the protests, but failed to mention Italy's
ongoing inquiry into police brutality.

In contrast, the inquiry seems to be getting serious
attention in Italy. According to the BBC (1/7/03),
newspapers such as La Repubblica and Il Secolo XIX have been
publishing transcripts from the inquiry, and one report on
the television channel Rai Uno stated: "Now that the
investigation into the G8 events is drawing to a close,
suspected truths which had already emerged are being
officially confirmed."

Considering how fond U.S. media are of dramatic stories
about protester/police "clashes," they should be able to
find the energy to carefully investigate such incidents.
This is crucial journalistic work; the right to peaceful
assembly is central to democracy. The public deserves to
have access to follow-up investigations of what happened at
Genoa's "violent" protests.

If you'd like to encourage media outlets to follow this
story, some media contact information is available at:
http://www.fair.org/media-contact-list.html

--

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net