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GENOVA: Today it is a War Zone

Chicago IMC Global Desk: Two brief eyewitness accounts of the situation in Genoa, from June C. Terpstra, Loyola U. instructor, currently in Genoa for the convergence and counter summit sponsored by the Genoa Social Forum. Check out her webpage as well.

A dark cloud literally hovered over Genova as I rode the bus from my cousin's home where I am staying in Genova to the convergence center near the harbor. There are Italian police and military all over the city, checking primarily young people on motorbikes (easy targets), "guarding the fences that were erected last night, clustering in groups with riot gear in place. Busloads of them could be seen yesterday; they are primarily young boys with fear in their faces, bodies tight with hyper-vigilance.

I brought my camera with me today and took pictures from my bus seat; photos of baby military boys in riot gear and cops stopping people. The Genovese, who as many Italians I have met, mistake me for an Italian (I know this because folks just talk to me immediately in Italian) begin to look at me with suspicion, looks that say, you are one of them, the protesters, the outsiders, the agitators, who are here to mess with our city. They call what we do, la manifestazione, the manifestation, and indeed, this is a good word, for we are manifesting a resistance to organized greed and slavery that is long over due.

At the organizational meeting, I heard that in certain border areas they were keeping people from coming here and to day the Social Forum reported that the Globalise Resistance train was cancelled by French Government.

The French Transport Minister Jean Claude Gayssot ordered SNCF French railways to cancel the Globalise Resistance train, which was to take to Italy more then 500 peaceful activists from England. This decision came from a summit between Italian and French authorities.

The train had been hired by the international organization Globalise Resistance from SNCF.

This joint action of Italian and French governments is the latest of a great number of violations of democratic rights that have always been falsely motivated by security reasons.

This action of the two governments shows how they do not respect basic rights and we cannot accept that these restrictions can be put on the freedom of movement.

Genoa Social Forum organisations representing some tens of thousand of people consider these actions a serious attack to the entire movement and firmly request that the order is cancelled as soon as possible to let the manifestors regularly arrive.

You may have no news of this war in America today, you may think that these manifestations of a movement from Seattle to Genova do not affect you, but this war against organized greed and global imperialism is everywhere, and it's here to stay.

In Solidarity,

June C. Terpstra


Behind the Scenes at the GFS in Genova

For the past two days I have been attending the organizational meetings of the Genova Social Forum as a delegate from Liberation Central. Today's meeting was full of news of the escalating military menace posed to intimidate activists here.

Activists, particularly *stranieri* or foreigners are being stopped, some hauled off to jail, some reported in the Indy media as beaten, (see for their coverage). We are urged to get the word out to as many as possible around the world so please forward this to all and sundry. Police have rifled through people's belongings who are staying at the stadium, and a Dutch TV crew were forced to leave Italy because a baseball bat was found in their van.

There is a huge restriction of movement being imposed here in Genova, more so than in Quebec from what I am hearing. So, with each manefestazione there are more freedoms stolen from us.

Despite many incidents of harassment, a suggestion for a protest about police harassment today was decided against by the organizers because they felt this would escalate problems that would detract specifically from the Migrant march scheduled for tomorrow. What was agreed was to issue yet another press statement and to send a delegation to meet with the police. I did notice that very few people volunteered for that activity.

As an aging activist here in Genova I decided to attend the direct action training conducted by Starhawk and company. I think this contribution very, very important. Most participants were young people who were hungry for the information on how to expand peripheral vision, what to do if you or a fellow companero is nabbed by the heat, and how to deal with line harassment. Everything was presented within the context of self-determining choice within the violence and nonviolence debate albeit these women were teaching conflict de-escalation. I think this maybe a change over the years when I recall these trainings to be from a strictly nonviolent perspective.

Despite very loose security here at the convergence center, it has been quite rewarding for me to participate on all the levels of which I am involved (organizing meetings to front desk security).

I am off to one more meeting for today and then I will participate in the Take Back The Streets Dance Party (where those who know me well know that this is where I really belong).

More tomorrow from Genova as long as I can continue to get access to these computers.

In Solidarity,

June C. Terpstra

Liberation Central




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