GENOA, Italy, - An overnight raid by Italian police on the headquarters of the
anti-globalization movement Genoa Social Forum (GSF) left dozens of activists
wounded before a Group of Eight summit ended here, witnesses and hospital
officials said Sunday.
The raid on last day of the summit of world leaders began shortly after
midnight and ended just before 2:00 am (0000 GMT).
G8 leaders deplored the riots that swept through Genoa, including the
shooting death of a protester, in a communique issued at the end of their
Gear, including the banner in English in background, that police said they had confiscated in a raid at the anti-globalization Genoa Social Forum earlier in the night, at the police headquarters in Genoa, Italy, Sunday, July 22, 2001. Police entered the school, where most of the activists were camping, in search of incriminating material after Friday and Saturday's violence in the streets of Genoa. Dozens were arrested, while ambulances carried away several other injured people after the raid. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi fielded several questions on the
violence and heavy-handed policing at the summit during the final press
He said he had learned of the police raid only that morning in a phone call
from his interior minister.
"He told me some arms and weapons were found, and that 60 members of the
Black Block were there who were apparently hiding, and being helped by the GSF,"
The Black Block is an international militant leftist group.
"Apparently, they (police) could not distinguish clearly between violent
activists and members of the Global Forum," he said. "Apparently they were
colluding," he added.
The GSF, one of a group of organizations who had met with Berlusconi in the
run-up to the summit, had set up offices in the ground floor of the A.Diaz
school. Around 50 activists protesting against the G8 meeting were staying
"They forced their way in and we lay down on the floor immediately," said
Michael Gieser, a Belgian journalist staying in the school.
"They came in, blocked the door and kept beating us with sticks and kicking
us, one after the other."
Gieser suffered facial lacerations and said he sprained an arm during the
raid. He said that about 15 young police continued to club and kick people on
the ground even when an officer shouted at them to stop.
Around 40 were injured in the raid, according to the GSF.
British freelance journalist Mark Covell, 33, was thrown to the ground and
held by the neck while four or five police kicked him, witnesses said, adding
that Covell was left lying unconscious in a pool of blood.
Witnesses said they saw police washing away blood in the street using water
from bottles littering the area.
GSF chief spokesman Vittorio Agnoletto said that offices of lawyers for the
movement and the independent journalists association Indymedia were ransacked
during the raid.
"This reaction is like Goliath against David. It is because they fear a
peaceful, non-violent movement. They hope that we will choose violence," he
"This is not the situation of a democratic country in the third
The Genoa Social Forum is an umbrella organization of more than 800
anti-globalization organizations including anti-AIDS groups, debt relief
activists and environmentalists. They staged a nonviolent demonstration
Saturday that drew more than 150,000 people.
As a helicopter hovering at rooftop height lit up the street with
floodlights, activists appeared shaken and horrified, calling the police action
an unprovoked and brutal attack,
"If you can't speak your mind in Europe any more, where can you," said one
Irish protester who declined to give her name.
"It's Latin America, it's fascism," shouted a shocked onlooker.
Police department spokesman Roberto Sgalla said "about 10" had been hurt in
the raid, while other people hospitalized had been injured in the demonstrations
of the previous 36 hours.
Police and ambulances took 26 injured to the San Martino hospital, said chief
hospital medic Enrico Cavana.
An hour after the start of the raid there was blood on walls and floors, with
windows broken, furniture smashed and personal belongings and books strewn all
Police spokesman Sgalla told state RAI television that iron bars, knives,
blunt objects and black T-shirts had been seized.
Sgalla said the police had moved in after a "tip-off", while the GSF told AFP
that at the time of the raid a meeting had been under way to prepare symbolic
action later Sunday.
Members of parliament and lawyers called in to help by the GSF militants were
refused access to the building.
The police were looking for film and photographs in the possession of the
organizers of the anti-G8 demonstrations which degenerated into violence Friday
and Saturday, resulting in one death and scores injured in clashes with security
forces, the GSF said.
The raid came after two days of violent clashes between anarchists and police
that left one demonstrator dead and more than 250 people injured on the fringes
of anti-globalization rallies.
Philipp Stein, a German journalist from Berlin and a member of Indymedia,
said he was hit when he pleaded with police to stop.
"Because police strategy completely failed during the two days, they decided
to hit back hard," said Stein, referring to the earlier
Copyright © 2001 AFP