Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday defended police actions during last month’s Group ofEight meeting, declaring the meeting "a political and diplomatic success." He said:
"I express my full solidarity with the security forces," he said. "Criticism should not be leveled at the police butat the violent (anti-globalization) groups who have already vowed to intervene at upcoming international summits."
Berlusconi’s comments came the same day the deputy chief of Genoa’s anti-terrorism police was charged with assaultand battery. Court sources said Genoese examining magistrates had seen a video showing him kicking the head of ayoung protestor lying on the ground who had already been beaten by other police. The day before, the Italian policechief admitted for the first time that his officers had used excessive force.
Some 100,000 people converged in Genoa to protest the Group of Eight summit last month. During the protests, policeshot an unarmed protester twice in the head and then ran him over with an armored vehicle. The night the summitended, police raided a school where protesters and independent journalists were staying. Protesters say they werebrutally beaten by police during the raid; journalists who entered the building afterwards reported seeing pools ofblood and teeth scattered across the floor. Protesters also say they were beaten in detention, strip-searched anddenied access to food, phone calls, or contact with their lawyers and consulates. Some women say they were sexuallyassaulted.
In case you thought the police tactics in Genoa is an Italian phenomenon, think again. According to Lt. Karl Deeleyof the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, two Los Angeles sheriffs and a deputy traveled to Italy to train asmall group of Italian police officers in the use of aluminum batons; those officers then trained the rest of theItalian police force.
The Los Angeles police forces are not known for their peaceful tactics. Four activist groups sued the city of LosAngeles and its police department in federal court yesterday, claiming that officers who clubbed and shot protesterswith pepper spray and rubber bullets at the Democratic National Convention last year, violated their U.S.constitutional rights. In 1999, dozens of LAPD officers were fired as evidence emerged that officers had shothandcuffed men, planted evidence, given false testimony, and were engaged in drug-dealing. The city was rocked bymass protests and riots in 1992, following the police beating of Rodney King.
Today we will hear the stories of two protesters who have just returned home from Genoa, Italy to the United States.They were beaten by Italian police in the raid on a school located next to the Independent Media Center just as theG8 summit was coming to a close. More than 60 people were hospitalized in the police attack.
- Morgan Hager, undergraduate at the University of Oregon.
- Sherman Sparks, just graduated from the University of Oregon.