On the anti G8 riots, the death of Carlo Giuliani and their relevance to Seattle.
Why is the remembrance of anti-G8 riots and Carlo Giuliani's death important to us in Seattle? After all, it happened in Genoa Italy more then ten years ago in July 2001. The situation was alien to anything we have recently experienced in Seattle: hundreds of thousands of people protested in the streets, 20,000 police and soldiers turned the city into a militarized zone, and thousands of rebels experimented with ”..the practical critique of action: banks would be attacked, supermarkets looted, dealerships set on fire.” Then the image of the police as anything other than a military force faded away and a masked twenty three year old Carlo Giuliani was shot and killed while smashing a police jeep with a fire extinguisher.
Not a situation experienced in Seattle recently to say the least, and yet the logic of the institutions at play and their willingness to kill to maintain order is the same. Conversely the joyous experience of the moment of individual and collective revolt can sometimes still be felt.
In Genoa then as in Seattle today the police strategy was to experiment with military tools and logic against rioters or protesters in the city. Violence is and was unleashed on all those who are insubordinate, people are beaten and locked in cages.
On the other side in Genoa “..after the passing of the rebels, who curious people and youth of the neighborhoods would frequently join, nothing was any longer as before. Cars, as mobile boxes that transport workers to their daily condemnation, became toys with which to amuse oneself and barricades with which to stop the police. The siren song of advertising that poisons the spirit and commodifies bodies was silenced. Electronic eyes were blinded. Journalists were driven away. Looting transformed commodities to pay for into free goods to share. Through colorful writing, the walls were freed from their dismal greyness. Streets, docks and buildings were used as arsenals. The city plan, modeled on the needs of the economy and refined by the imperatives of social control, broke down under the fire of the uprising.” In Seattle sometimes curious people and youth join as well, the media is chased away or humiliated, windows are broken, fireworks and smoke and paint bombs are thrown, the everyday capitalist normality is broken if even for a few moments.
After a moment of revolt ends in both Genoa and Seattle, activists, liberals, journalists, and politicians unite in their commentary calling for the elements that refused to recognize the holiness of private property and commodities to be recuperated or repressed. Some denounce the rebels as hijackers of the protests, proclaiming their faith that if only good demonstrators spoke the truth to power things will change. Others claim the rebels were infiltrators or provocateurs who intentionally ruined a great peaceful event. Some even go so far as to meet with the police (Juan Bocanegra in Seattle). Another common narrative focuses on the excesses of the police (the stranger and many activists for example). Video footage is examined, mostly to the detriment of rebels, but some hold up their images of police violence and demand justice. Nothing substantial ever comes of this except more proof that speaking the truth to power is useless, at most a few cops might be given unpaid vacation, a few charges against protesters dropped. “What could we add about the inanity of anyone who asks the courts for Truth and Justice, as if a single truth and justice could exist on both sides of the barricades? Haven’t the government, the rulers and the judges been explicit in absolving and promoting the murderers and torturers in uniforms, like always?”
In the end too often “All that is remembered of the days in Genoa is the brutality of the cops. The joyous aspect of a subversion of daily life has been almost completely buried.” So lets remember that contagious rebellion can conquer the streets even in Seattle, however we can't let the blood shed by the hand of the state’s cops dry up in our mind so lets not forget Carlo Giuliani and anyone else beaten, imprisoned or killed by the police.
Quotes from this article are from So That That July Turns Out To Be A Threat by some anonymous Italians.
This article will be published in Storming heaven #2