ROME More than two weeks ago, Susan Hager received a telephone call in Portland, Ore., about her daughter, a student who had stopped off in Genoa to join protesters at the Group of 8 summit meeting on her way to a junior year abroad program in Siena.
"Her friend had found her bloody belongings" at the Armando Diaz school complex in Genoa where protesters had been staying, Mrs. Hager said. There, in the early hours of July 22, 92 young people were dragged from their beds by squads of Italian anti-riot police officers who beat and jailed them.
Sixty of those demonstrators originally described by Italian officials as marauding anarchists but in more recent official reports as mostly peaceful were injured in the raid. At least two dozen were hospitalized, including Mrs. Hager's daughter, Morgan, and two other Americans.
Jose Bove (L), French farmer and anti-globalization activist, holds a banner which reads, "G8 Assassins," against the violence at the Group of Eight Summit in Genoa, during a march in Paris July 26, 2001. A thousand people demonstrated in Paris against the Group of Eight summit and the violence of police and paramilitary forces, resulting in one death and some 200 injured. REUTERS/John Schults
Witnesses described students crouching as they were kicked, pummeled with clubs and thrown down stairs, and emergency room doctors said a number of the injured would have died without treatment. Television crews arriving on the scene later filmed pools of blood and teeth knocked out during the raid.
It was a day or two "before we knew our daughter wasn't in a coma," Mrs. Hager said. But Morgan Hager, 20, an honors student at the University of Oregon, had cuts and bruises from her ankles to her neck and three broken bones in her hand.
Almost as painful as the news about her daughter, Mrs. Hager said, was the sense that most Americans remain unaware of the brutality of the raid, which Italian officials originally justified by saying that protesters at the school made available to nonviolent demonstrators had been harboring members of the violent Black Bloc anarchists.
Four Americans remain in jail, including Susanna Thomas, a Bryn Mawr student and Quaker from Warren, N.J., who was arrested with an Austrian theater group as it was leaving Genoa.
Outrage about the police behavior has built across Europe, where the issue has become a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Thousands of people have marched in protest, governments have expressed concern and newspapers have been filled with accounts of police brutality. One young Italian man was shot dead in the protests at the summit meeting, about 200 people were injured and some 300 were arrested.
There have been major demonstrations in Paris, London, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Belgrade and Athens, where riot police officers used tear gas to disperse several thousand people en route to the Italian embassy. In Amsterdam last week, about a dozen protesters managed to take over the Italian consulate and hung a banner out front: "Italy Tortures G- 8 Detainees."
Spain's European Affairs Secretary, Ramon de Miguel, called the scenes a replay of fascism. Hans- Christian Ströbele, a European deputy from Germany, said the Genoa police reminded him of "the military dictatorship in Argentina."
Hermann Lutz, chairman of the European Police Union, told the German television network ZDF that as he watched the riots on television he thought "it had to have been in some kind of dictatorship or in Eastern Europe or in Cuba, but not among us in the middle of Europe."
Germany's Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, a left-wing activist in his younger years, has called his Italian counterpart, Renato Ruggiero, to urge the Italian government to investigate police actions. Twenty- one Germans are among the 39 people still being held in Italian jails.
One German who was also arrested in the raid at the school in Genoa, a man who asked that he not be identified, described his ordeal in a statement issued by his lawyer, Dagmar Vogel, in Oberhausen, Germany: "I was hit in the head, the back, and the legs and a hard hit on the head. My skull flattened. I bled badly. I lay in my own blood bath and didn't move at all." After 2 a.m., he was arrested while still in the hospital, and was not allowed to sleep or make telephone calls, he said. During four days of detention, he said he was forced to stand with his hands against a wall for hours, harassed about going to the bathroom and taken from one location to another.
Ms. Thomas was arrested along with two dozen members of the Austrian group Publix Theater. According to the respected Austrian weekly Profil, the conservative Austrian government initially dismissed reports of police brutality and sent Italian officials reports in which Publix performers had been characterized as violent anarchists. But Profil said those reports predated an economic summit meeting in Salzburg in July at which the group protested peacefully with street performances. After reading a full investigation by the Austrian consulate general in Milan, Foreign Minister Benita Maria Ferrero-Waldner is reported to have requested that Italy transfer home the 16 remaining Publix members.
In a summary of the Austrian consulate's report to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, posted on Profil's web site (www.profil.at/aktuell), several members of Publix described being arrested at gunpoint, strip searched, beaten and berated by officers who shouted in English, "I break you!" and "You monster!"
Ms. Thomas's family has complained that the United States government has not done nearly enough in speaking out against what went on.
"The U.S. is conspicuous by its absence in the list of nations that have protested to the Italian government over the imprisonment and the behavior of the Italian police in their handling of the protests in Genoa," her father, Rick Thomas, said in a message on the family's web site.
A spokesman for the American Consulate in Milan said, "We're doing all we can."
Even some members of Italy's center-right coalition now concede that something went terribly wrong in Genoa, though they continue to point fingers at the left, saying that the former center-left government was responsible for planning security for the summit meeting.
Italian courts have opened at least half a dozen separate investigations into various allegations of police brutality, and a parliamentary inquiry began today.
Testifying at a Senate hearing in Rome, Genoa's leftist mayor, Guiseppe Pericu, said Mr. Berlusconi's government should shoulder the full blame for police misconduct.
Mr. Berlusconi has also been criticized recently for suggesting that he would like to get out of being host to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, scheduled to meet in Rome in November.
Interior Minister Claudio Scajola has removed three top police officials who ran security operations at the summit meeting, but has not apologized. "A state must never lose the monopoly on the use of force," he said recently, "and the ability to guarantee the safety of a summit."
But other members of the government coalition have criticized Mr. Berlusconi directly.
"It is not possible that the head of government goes to Genoa four times, and preoccupies himself only with flower pots, dirty laundry and building facades," Domenico Fisichella, a senator of the far-right Alleanza Nazionale, said in a radio interview on Monday, referring to Mr. Berlusconi's comments before the meeting that the city was unsightly.
"Who was taking care of the problems of public order?" Mr. Fisichella asked. "Who evaluated the impact? Why were necessary precautions not taken? It's too easy to liquidate a few functionaries and consider the question closed."
Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company