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Media Missing New Evidence About Genoa Violence

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.
FAIR-L
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

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.


----------------
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What do you Expect from the Capitalist Media? 10.Jan.2003 20:22

fuck CNN

This report from FAIR is very illuminating for exposing the so-called Capitalist free press's attempts to ignore what many radical activists have long suspected about the Genoa (and other anti-globalization) protests: that various government "agent provocateurs" are involved staging various fake terrorist acts (or other forms of "violence")in order to smear anti-capitalist activists as terrorists or "violent protestors."

The only problem with this FAIR report is the fact that it believes the Capitalist media is merely "missing" these reports--as if they are unaware of them to begin with.

The capitalist media ain't "missing" anything. They are deliberately covering up and lying about what happened at the Genoa protests--much like they are lying about other examples of Western government supported and directed "Fake Terror" such as the Anthrax attacks and the minor little incident that happened on September 11th in NYC and Washington DC.

Also 10.Jan.2003 23:00

.

FAIR seriously understates the aftermath of the Diaz School raid with the statement that all arrestees were later released with no charges filed. I don't know whether this may even be technically true, since I seem to recall that charges WERE filed against many of those arrested. In addition, those who were released had to sign papers printed in Italian admitting God knows what, and most non-citizens were banned from returning to Italy for ten years.

This is over and above the beatings and torture the Diaz group suffered at the hands of the police, not only at the school but later in the holding centers and jails where they were held. Many were (much later) transferred to hospitals - some in critical condition with broken limbs. The young girls who had their teeth knocked out by police batons weren't even accorded such luxuries.

While it's good that the investigation is beginning to produce results, and FAIR is to be commended for trying to keep it in the public eye, the current inquiry hasn't even scratched the surface. The G-8 was a setup from beginning to end. The so-called black blocs were thoroughly infiltrated by police and police agents posing as protesters, and there is every indication it was these agents who committed most of the destruction. There is tons of evidence in the form of witness testimony and even photographic material to back this up.

And it wasn't just an "us against them" police mentality or a few rogue cops responsible either. This thing was organized in a heirarchical manner and involved some of the most ideologically committed neo-fascist units in Italy - units chosen for their unquestioning belief in classical Mussolini fascism. This was made clear in the interrogations, when prisoners were forced to sing fascist songs from the 1940s, while standing before framed pictures of Mussolini hanging on the wall in the detention facilities.