translations by italycalling
Wave of arrests among radical student group in Florence
All of them are believed to be connected with the local social centre Spazio Liberato 400 colpi (Liberated Space 400 Blows), which played a huge part in the student protests of last autumn. The charges are in some instances similar to the ones made against the Bologna arrestees last month, of subversive and criminal association, but some are more specific: damage to private or public property, illegal occupation of public buildings, violence against police officers, disruption to public services. These all refer to the direct actions and protests that student groups carried out all over Italy between November and December 2010 in particular, when huge groups of protesters occupied train and bus stations, monuments and other public places.
The 78 people under investigation are all believed to have participated in actions that took place during those months in Florence, such as damage to banks and cash points, sabotage of CCTV installations, damage and attacks against headquarters of local political parties and international companies, occupations of public and private buildings and disruption of public transport by the occupation of train stations and main roads. For info and videos of the protests read my previous articles by clicking on “Students” under the Categories menu. Once again, the police and the media have claimed that weapons were found in the social centre: have a look here at the dangerous weapons of mass destruction for a laugh (or a cry…). Earlier on in January, the same social centre had announced online the discovery of 2 bugs in the building.
In a repetition of methods used in other historical circumstances, Italian authorities are once again engaged in a ruthless and brutal crackdown of any radical (and less radical, for that matter) form of dissent. They might have been astonished and almost paralysed by the size and creativity of the protests but their intention now is clear: to scare the thousands people who took to the streets during the last few months by punishing a few, the ones they believe to be the instigators and leaders; to cause friction and division between groups and individuals with different tactics and strategies and, ultimately, to reaffirm their power and have their revenge. But they can’t stop the seeds of resistance spreading, any more than they can still the winds of change.
No arrest will stop this new spring
“Criminal organisation”, they say. We say: autonomy, conflict, direct action. “Dismantled”, they define it. We laugh at their delusions. It’s stating the obvious that this operation is the result of yet another frameup, so we won’t waste words on it. We’re not surprised that many of the comrades subjected to raids and forced to weekly report at police stations were never involved in Spazio Liberato 400 Colpi. These are comrades with whom we’ve shared many a struggle; political friendships that we’ve always wanted to cultivate, beyond the typical geopolitical borders – networks that have been able of producing conflict and that have brought a breath of fresh air to a pacified Florence.
“Raids against the anarchists”, they say. We say: anti-insurrectionist operation against anyone who has decided to abandon the fetish of identity to build a real revolutionary perspective of today; against anyone who, nevermind their political inclinations, has been brave enough to create spaces of conflict within the urban environment, without carrying flags or dogmas but humbly confronting a reality that must be known to be subverted; against the whole movement that started emerging from the quicksands of student struggles and “civil protest” a couple of years ago with the Anomalous Wave – a diverse movement that refused to crystallise in one or another militant areas.
The media can keep portraying us as an isolated anarchistic sect if they want, but we know that out there, in the streets, in universities, in neighborhoods, there’s plenty of people who know and recognise us as comrades. Brothers and sisters with whom we have materially shared many, but not all, of the “crimes” we’re being accused of: occupations of school and universities, pickets, flash mobs and blockades. We’re certain these political friendships will be stronger than any police operation.
The unstoppable strike* advances, frightening the Party of Order, from the Home Office to the local Digos** officer. The student mobilisations have been more spicy than ever, with Piazza del Popolo on fire and many smaller actions and new networks. The need to expand and organise this movement is already on the agenda, in Florence like in other places – a difficult, ambitious and dangerous plan, for sure…but nothing will stop this new spring.
* Referring to the general strike of the 6th May which saw many initiatives all over Italy.
** The Digos (General Investigations and Special Operations Division) is a special police department charged with investigating cases relating to terrorism and organised crime. It is de facto a secret police.
More arrests in Florence and Milan
Florence: just about a month after the events of May 4th (5 arrests and 22 banning orders among students involved in last autumn’s revolts) another raid on June 13th concluded with another 7 arrests and 9 banning orders. The measures applied to the arrestees are if possible even stricter than for the previous arrests: 6 people are under “home arrest” and can’t communicate with anyone apart from people they live with. An activist from Milan was arrested simply for taking part in the big solidarity demo against the arrests of May 4th. In total, more than 90 people are now under arrest or investigation, and this includes people of all ages, from secondary school to university students.
From the statement by the Network of Florence Collectives: This year and the previous ones it was more than 90 people on the streets of Florence. We were thousands. We appeal to those thousands of people we shared our fights with, to go back to the streets, express their ideas and show their solidarity to the comrades hit by the repression.
A few days later, in the early morning of June 15th, two anarchists were arrested in Milan. They were spotted by the police cycling and were stopped. A home-made molotov cocktail was supposedly found in their bag, and more incriminating materials were found in their houses: wigs, balaclavas, petrol, fireworks. The two men didn’t carry documents with them but were later identified by the political police Digos as anarchists linked to the local animal rights/enviromental movement and to a local social centre in Saronno, the Telos (which stands for Free Occupied Territory of Saronno). In February this year, the police had issued warnings against 12 people involved in the same social centre, for being a “threat to public order and security” by having taken part in a series of “invasions and occupations of public and private buildings, and violent and aggressive protests against the local police forces”.
Mattia and Federico can be written to at:
Mattia Petit / Federico Buono
Piazza Filangieri 2
Numerous initiatives are being organised all over Italy in solidarity with all the arrestees, from benefit gigs or meals, to pickets outside the prisons. Quote from the leaflet:
“They aim at our legs, but it’s too late: we have already learned to fly”.
Article Published in Statewatch
A return to persecutory theorems against any political and social protest?
“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.