Italy
A return to persecutory theorems against any political and social protest?
by Salvatore Palidda  Bookmark and Share

"Blitz against anarchists", this was the title of many daily newspapers on the past 4 May.

Five youths under house arrest, 17 others obliged to sign on in judicial police offices, a total of 78 people under investigation, almost all of them Florentine students without criminal records who are between 20 and 30 years old and frequented, in some cases occasionally, the group "Spazio Liberato 400 colpi". They are accused of criminal association for the purpose of instigating a range of crimes: unlawful occupation of public buildings, causing damage, defacing and soiling buildings, resistance, violence and offending public officers, interrupting public services and violence against persons. The alleged offences date back to the autumn of 2010, that is, to the struggle against the Gelmini reform [of the education system, both for schools and universities] and to incidents such as the damaging of cashpoints, sabotage against urban videosurveillance, damage caused to the offices of political parties, trade unions and national and international institutes, occupying buildings owned by local councils or private bodies, violence against police forces, or interruptions of public services ocurring when railtracks or roads were blocked.

In January 2011, some blogs had already reported that two bugging devices were found in the seat of the "Spazio liberato 400 colpi" in via del Parione in Florence. According to prosecutors, this is where the youths planned "night-time raids" including one against CISL [a trade union] or the damaging of council-owned cameras. During protests against the Gelmini reform, a building site for the high-speed railway was occupied.

Probably because they are not very busy in investigations against terrorism and organised crime, and because they are sensitive to the need to display eager support for a government that notoriously considers any opposition to its actions criminal if not terrorist, with dazzling intelligence, the secret services (now headed by the prefetto De Gennaro and others who have already been convicted for events during the G8 in Genoa) have put together an umpteenth theorem: those under investigation are supposedly "the embryo of a subversive organisation" that is supposedly ready for the decisive switch towards the galaxy of insurrectionalism.

Ministers Gelmini (education), Maroni (interior/home affairs) and others had claimed that troublemakers who opposed the reform and other choices made by the government were almost terrorists (a view that is not far removed from famous conformists who are considered democrats if not left-wingers - consider the stands taken against the violent student protests in December in Rome… clashes that anyone from the English liberal democratic tradition would deem normal and inevitable, considering the choices made by those in power). Thus, our gallant secret services have been capable of producing a staggering seven thousand pages of inquiry into the Florentine youths' activities.

According to what some reporters have written and several people's testimonies, some of them teachers, the mention of anarchist ideas is generic and a key feature for a majority of the youths who are under investigation; almost with the typical truthfulness of their first political experience, they merely declare that they are protestors. It may well be possible that there are moments of radicalisation of the struggle in the movements and some youths who tend to exaggerate (as also happens in the ends of stadia), but even the neighbourhood's shopkeepers and residents tell reporters that they are not scared. "The boys come in the evening, when the shops are closed already"... "all in all, they are calm… even though soiling the walls does not help their cause". There are even some investigators who admit that a few flyers bearing a five-pointed star "is not connected to the Red Brigades' terrorism" (as usual, it is a misused logo "that has been fashionable for some time"). "Criminal association, they say: we say autonomy, action, conflict"; "If struggling is a crime, we are all criminals". In a press conference, a students' spokesman added: "facing violent policies like those deployed by this government concerning university, it is obvious that people should expect a rather high level of conflictiveness". As is predictable in these cases, there is no shortage of overtly provocative graffiti such as "Osama lives" and "Renzi, monster of Florence" [Renzi is the mayor; the "monster" refers to the perpetrator of the murders of eight couples between 1968 and 1985 in the city].

The free trade advocates' pretence to violently manage the disorder caused by choices that unashamedly favour the stronger actors and are detrimental for the very future of society -and hence young people- does away with any negotiation for the benefit of a peaceful management, that is, through common sense and therefore mediation.

The national government and local powers incite police forces towards the violent persecution of protests by trying to stage mass distractions (against invented enemies) and, in effect favour the real enemies: Mafia syndicates that are innervated with the strong powers practically everywhere, underground economies, frauds connected to great building works, tax evasion, construction without permits, environmental Mafias, insecurity in workplaces, pollution, but also by hindering the fight against organised crime. This is the real insecurity that is concealed through a raid like the one against the Florence youths who are pushed towards radicalising their opposition and through speeches about insecurities and fears that are invariably blamed on those who are marginalised and must be persecuted.

This article first appeared in the June 2011 issue of Alfabeta magazine.


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