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A W.O.M.B.L.E. in Genoa: Part 1  ( Part 2 - Part 3 )
by Uncle Italia 9:21am Thu Jul 26 '01

address: c/o WOMBLES alfred.scott(a)

Arriving in Genoa

Some tales from our adventures thus far....
Thursday morning, we are in Genoa finally!! How?

Well, we were welcomed to Italy in bologna by some lovely italian hosts - invited us in to the TPO social centre and gave us bedding, armour, shields, beer, food...what more could one want? Some of us had come via Trieste, other's across Europe by train or, we started to assemble....

Tuesday was the day of the meet-up, the day we were able to finish our 'protection' and organise for the days ahead. The building we were in was an old aquarium, the most massive free space that any of us had ever imagined (fortunately, we had only a few remaining fish to share the building with, living in the fishtanks supporting the bar; most of the fish had gone elsewhere). There were three bars, a massive concert hall, a theatre, a dance floor, and an indymedia computer centre. We were given the keys and told to treat the place as if it was ours.

So a long night of bonding and scheming occurred on Tuesday...we stayed up discussing plans and drinking alcohol, the pasta having gone down well. The following morning we woke late and made final preparations - food, water, vinegar, white overalls for the march to the station.....

....and through Bologna we went!! Twenty British WOMBLES womble'd up!! Along with more than twice that number of Tutte total, there were maybe 1000 - 1500 activists on the Bolognaise train; we think many have overalls and protection in their packs.

And then the train journey :-)

A six hour trip across italy (we bought tickets!!! but only about 7 quid each), stopping along the way to to pick up others...Modena, Parma....each time our banners:




hanging from the windows for people to know it was us....

We got to Genoa/Genova about midnight. Shit loads of police: political, civil and military, but not any hassle, just lots of cheering. Somehow we all squeezed on the bus (squashed a few italians, but SOLIDARITY in numbers) and made it to Carlini Stadium - still in White Overalls. The reception was rapturous!!!

The Carlini Stadium is a large sports stadium, the stands probably have room for 10,000 spectators. It is now the home of the CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE bloc. There are massive marquees covering the pitch, as well as loads of small tents that people have pitched around the place. Space is at a premium, but we all can share!! There are some catering facilities, media and information points, and NO police in sight this morning.

So, today, we organise ourselves. There will be discussions about tactics and a huge rehearsal this afternoon prior to the Migrant's March - a peaceful demonstration in support of FREEDOM WITHOUT BORDERS (Campsfield we are thinking of you!!). Then, tomorrow, there is the day of civil disobedience - something which has not yet been authorised by the authorities (almost all other activities HAVE got authorisation).....The news is that there will be several different blocs, many different actions. White Overalls, striking Metal Workers, the Pink bloc, the Silver bloc, etc....

We are having fun, making good use of the things that we find....


Uncle Italia

A W.O.M.B.L.E. in Genoa: Part 2
by Uncle Italia 9:24am Thu Jul 26 '01

address: c/o WOMBLES alfred.scott(a)

Thursday and Friday

WOMBLES on tour: Genoa!

This account is taken from notes I made during the trip. Since returning to civilisation (bed, roof and computer!), it has become apparent that not all of the stories are one hundred percent accurate and so I have tried to indicate where this is so....

Thursday, 19th July

Today was a long day: we hadn't arrived until late the previous night, and people didn't sleep until even later. Some people were up early in the morning to prepare for the next few days, others took the opportunity to sleep. But by midday we were all up and had discovered the town: shops, sea, Genoa Social Forum infopoint, Indymedia Centre, the Red Zone and the Wall. We regrouped in the afternoon in order to join the Tute Bianche and 50,000 others on the Migrant's March - a happy, peaceful, slowly winding affair through the squares, narrow streets, boulevards and tunnels of Genoa. The atmosphere was amazing: 50,000 voices singing and chanting in solidarity; the Genovese - who had been told to lock up and leave town - waving knickers and pants and bras from their window, throwing bottles of water to the thirsty demonstrators below. We were awestruck with the sea of people - and even more when we saw the "No G8 - CLOSE CAMPSFIELD" banner!!

Returning back to the Carlini stadium, we bought some real Italian pizza - delicious, and dirt cheap by UK standards. In the air we felt the first few drops of rain: soon, the city had turned into a torrential flood and emergency measures were taken in Carlini to dig gutters for the vast amount of water. Plans for an evening tactical session prior to the Direct Action Day on Friday were abandoned....

Friday, 20th July

Long day - good and bad!! 1 death (confirmed) - Spanish (name not yet known) - shot in the left eye while (?) running away from a "trapped" police vehicle. But this was late in the day....

WE woke at 8am - an Italian theme song from a program about a siege played over the loudspeakers: it was a joyous, militant march, a call to stand up for our beliefs and prepare for battle. We did. 3 hours of preparation: mock battles with individual and group shields; Tute Bianche sans overalls dressed in armour and helmets and goggles and gas masks, life jackets, buoyancy aids, protection, yellow, orange, white, black, blue, red. We were "il Disobediente Civili," or something like that. Then there were medics, indymedia, lawyers, "organisers," anarchists, press....

Left Carlini about midday. Marched down the main street (Corso Gastaldi) making slow progress as the huge shields, borne on little shopping trolley wheels, were not the easiest to manoeuvre and it was essential to try and keep the weight of numbers close behind. Large groups move slowly!

We continued straight until the road split between Via Montevideo and Via Tolemaide. We took the latter, passing down into town alongside the railway lines running into the Stazione Brignole (Brignole Station), then saw the smoke rising from the northern part of town. Rumour had it that the anarchists/black bloc had tried to liberate the prison; being frustrated in their attempts by the police, they had turned around and set fire to a bank.

A helicopter now came to look over us - a huge, menacing looking thing. Chants of "Bastardi" rose from the crowd, along with a one-finger salute. We were in a jubilant mood, intent on liberating Genoa - "Genova, Libera! Genova, Libera!!"

And then the gas canisters fell from the sky.

No warning, no police in sight, just out of the blue...onto an unsuspecting crowd, many of whom did NOT actually have masks or protection - and of those that did, most were not wearing it. It was mayhem. Crowds streaming backwards (literally! - carried by the water from their eyes), reinforcements continually trying to get to the front. Vinegar was quickly used up in dousing people's masks in order to provide some kind of respiratory protection; a tap was found and water was ferried to the front to assist those too overcome to withdraw. Hundreds if not thousands were affected, some acquiring head injuries or bruising from being hit by the canisters and bottles (yes!! Bottles) thrown from the police lines.

For now there were police lines. They had crept up the train lines, hidden behind a wall. They had formed lines at the bottom of Via Tolemaide and also at the bottom of Via Montevideo. In had now turned into a full scale war: charges and victories by both sides. The police rushed forwards but the "civil disobiedients" responded. We captured a Carabinieri riot van, and it was set on fire. Demonstrators were arrested in small numbers, but mostly the police seemed bent on causing harm only. People caught fire, blood was pouring from head wounds and some collapsed under the stress of the heat and teargas. Two vans carrying water cannon made forays up the streets, tear gas canisters continually exploding around them. Medics got trapped whilst helping people, narrow escapes were the order of the day....

...for most of us. But not for Carlo Guiliani. Sometime later in the afternoon, around about 5 or 5.30pm, a group of three police vehicles whose advance had been stopped by the presence of barricades across the road were attacked by protestors. Two of them withdrew the fifty metres or so back to police lines, the third was surrounded by a group of (maximum) ten protestors. A WOMBLE saw the Carabinieri draw his pistol: lying back across the seat, shield in his left arm, legs up; he took steady aim. The WOMBLE ran, then heard the shot. Turning, he saw the police vehicle reverse over the body on the floor, then drive forward over the body on the floor.

The WOMBLES ran to assist: between them, a huge amount of life experience, but never anything like this. They check Carlo's pulse - weak and fading - then turned the head and realised that blood was pumping out of an enormous hole in his head. Meanwhile, the police were firing constant tear gas canisters AT the two demonstrators and the body on the floor...the police were advancing and there was nothing the WOMBLES could do but run.... Back in Carlini Stadium the mood was subdued. No one had anything positive to say: just shokc at the tactics and violence of the police. A television had somehow been connected in the corner of the marquee; round about 8pm a sudden cry went up and people rushed outside. An announcement came over the loudspeakers: "The G8 summit has been suspended!" Maybe Carlo didn't die in vain....maybe we WERE finally starting to change this god-awful world of ours, maybe his brothers and sisters the world over would one day be able to share in Peaceful Heaven right here on earth without anymore bloodshed.....   (see personal account of the WOMBLE who tried to help)

There followed triumphant singing and chants of "Genova, Libera!". A police helicopter circled over head and, in unison, there arose a chant of "ASSASSINI." On the slanting concrete edge to the stadium, a velodrome circuit, somebody wrote in letters 10 feet high, "SBIRRI ASSASSINI" - cop murderers - for the helicopter to see on it's next circuit. For the rest of the evening the helicopter was conspicuously absent.

An evening of political speeches was about to commence. First, thought, there was a minutes silence - a silence so profound and so silent that not even the crickets whispered. We cried with all out hearts that we could live in a world such as this...yet we knew that this just made our fight even more important. An open microphone was presented, and delegates stepped up from many countries, many groups, to speak in solidarity.

Meanwhile, outside the stadium, stragglers were being arrested by the police. We were warned of this over the loudspeaker, then advised that the Genoa Social Forum/Tute Bianche running the stadium would try to provide food for the six thousand. And provide they did!! Pasta (what else, in Italy!) for the masses...

More soon.....Ciao!

Uncle Italia

PS We found out it was an Italian (Carlo Guiliani) and not a Spaniard who had been murdered. Also, that the summit was not cancelled. But in any case, Genoa still needed liberating, so the battle was set to continue....Ya Basta!

A W.O.M.B.L.E. in Genoa: Part 3
by Uncle Italia 9:26am Thu Jul 26 '01

address: c/o WOMBLES alfred.scott(a)

Saturday, 21st July

I don't know what time we got to bed on the Friday night, but everyone was up by 10am the following day, and I know that I didn't get more than 7 hours sleep - a veritable lie-in, after the previous few days! Today there was to be a "Solidarité Internazionalé" march: we were to link arms and form cordons to march down the main streets of Genoa in peaceful unison. This tactic was designed not just to show our strength in numbers, but also to act as a means to exclude (unkown) police agitators who had - unfortunately - been able to penetrate the demonstrators and initiate wanton violence.

The WOMBLES were somewhere slightly back from the front of the march, although certainly within the first quarter or so of the demonstration. Press estimates of numbers vary from 200,000 (more conservative papers, at the time) to 300,000 or more (the more liberal papers, the communist papers, and now, several days later, the London Evening Standard, amongst others). It was hard to tell - a huge mass of people, spread over many miles of urban territory. Anyway, the WOMBLES, too, had a "cordoni" across the road, and were united in our desire for a peaceful demonstration: full respect to all the martyrs of the movement.

Through the middle, periodically, drove a van distributing bottles of water. And, like the previous days, those Genovese who had not joined the march were hanging from their windows, lowering bottles of water on string, hanging out their underwear...

I was walking with a group of Genoa Social Forum medics when we suddenly saw white smoke appear at a corner on the sea front ahead of us - we presumed tear gas, and correctly so. When we arrived (out of breath from the run!) a few moments later, gas masks and helmets on, we found we were correct: a large-ish square, on one side demonstrators shouting and making gestures at the police, opposite. Through the air came flying the tear gas canisters: and they were just as quickly thrown back.

It appeared at this stage as if there had been little property damage yet that day (there was a smashed up bank, but it was partially cordoned off with some tape as if it had been attacked during the previous days uproar); simply a little agitation and the constant chants of "ASSASSINI." But from here it was to escalate. Although the march diverted down a street one block before this battlefield, the police were soon firing tear gas at EVERYBODY - no discrimination - from many different angles. Black bloc, anarchists, Tute Bianche, COBAS (large left-wing Italian Syndicalist organisation), Green Peace, Drop the Debt (although the organisers had pulled out, many of their supporters still turned up with banners), Pacifists, innocent bystanders, sympathetic Genovese, independent and mainstream press, etc. were all attacked...

...Many did not have any form of mask with which to protect themselves. Supplies of vinegar (to douse masks and shirts to provide some form of protection against the noxious fumes of the teargas) soon ran out, and from then on we could practise only simple first aid by washing peoples eyes and faces with clean water. I remained on the front line their for about two hours: met many medics from around the world and worked together with the Genoa Fire Brigade to replenish water bottles.

Incidentally, a big salute to the Red Cross, the Fire Brigade and the Ambulance Service of Genoa. Also to the tens of thousands of demonstrators who allowed these support services to carry out their work. The solidarity was amazing.

Dropping back to find some more water, I found an ambulance crew who invited me into their vehicle to fill my rucksack with more bottles of water. I took my gas mask off - foolishly? - and at this point a fresh police attack brought wafts of the stuff drifting into my eyes. I jumped out of the ambulance to see police pouring down the street from the sea front: I turned and ran the other way....

...To see police streaming towards me from the other direction!! I turned back around again and ran towards the first lot of police, diverting down a side street and then bolting up a steep flight of steps. After a few moments, my legs could almost take it no more, but the mass of unprotected demonstrators carried me on. I bumped into a group of Drop the Debt protestors who had also made the journey from England, and they poured a load of water over my head.

Reaching the top, we paused for about 20 minutes: to capture our breath, to regain some energy, to try and absorb some of what we had experienced. Below us, the once beautiful city of Genoa, which only a few hours earlier had bathed gloriously under the blue Mediterranean skies and the gorgeous yellow sunshine, now struggled to emerge from the haze of tear gas. It was carnage

It was time, I felt, to return to the battlefield: unlike many of those around me, I had a mask and helmet, plus water and other medical supplies potentially of use. I descended from the top of our hill with difficulty - from all directions (three hundred and sixty degrees!) people were coming up with reports of police advances. Once again at the bottom, I tried to get back to where I had been previously - or anywhere there was confrontation, as I felt a block or so back would allow me to be close enough to help without running too great a risk of getting attacked or arrested - but to no avail. Along every street leading into town was a wall of police, several lines deep, and now, too, it was only peaceful demonstrators who were trying to march For a while I followed a man on stilts, calmly leading a group with their hands held high in the air towards a junction completely blocked by fully suited up riot police. I prepared once again for a tear gas attack, temporarily being asked to take off my mask and helmet by the demonstrators until I showed I was a medic taking precautions. There resulted a temporary impasse, before eventually the police cleared one street and allowed the demo through.

I had totally lost everyone. No WOMBLES to be seen - had they survived intact? None of the medics I knew, and simply thousands of wandering, bemused, bruised, lost, battered, confused, gassed, peaceful demonstrators. I happened upon the spot where Carlo had died the previous day; borrowing some paper from an independent journalist, I scribbled a message from the WOMBLES, and put some flowers into a 'vase' I made from a fresh water bottle. I cannot remember now what I wrote: only, perhaps, something to the effect that we shall fight always to create the better world that Carlo (and thousands of others across the world - let them not be forgotten) died for, that he would never be forgotten by us...I am not spiritual or religious in any way, but my hands trembled as I wrote and my heart bled...

There was no way, now, that I could find back towards the centre, so I wandered aimless as a cloud. But no daffodils did I see, simply the carnage and destruction that had been wrought upon us all. As an old Genovese lady had said two days earlier, there had been nothing like it since the Second World War - and probably not even then. There was no way down, and soon there were rushes up the smaller streets as the DIGOS (political police) attempted to capture people. Little luck, I understand....

I arrived back at Carlini around 7 or 8 pm. There, the WOMBLES regrouped, and an announcement said that the first Bologna party was to leave at 9 o'clock. We rushed to pack and left with that group.... make it as far as Stazione Brignole (Brignole Station). We found a platform, then found a train, then waited patiently for it to leave. Someone managed to buy 10 bottles of cheap Italian wine, and we put a moratorium on political discussion. But slowly news filtered through to us: Indymedia journalists had film of agents provocateurs dressed in black and wearing masks and helmets coming out of police stations, chatting behind police lines and throwing rocks from amongst the demonstrators. Then we heard about the attack on the Genoa Social Forum and the Cesar Batista buildings....but we were exhausted, we had our bags packed and had left our protection; we needed to leave the destruction behind and spread the truth to those who hadn't been here....

So, that was my story, the way it appeared and happened to me....may you all spread the word, for THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES...

Ya Basta!

Uncle Italia

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