If you haven't heard, why the f* do you talk?

The death of Carlo Giuliani

/ by Francesco Trento

Every year is the same story, and this 17th anniversary didn’t go any better: When people mourn Carlo Giuliani, killed during the protests at the infamous G8 in Genova in 2001, immediately a bunch of morons starts shitting on his memory. ‘He had a fire extinguisher in his hands!’, they say. ‘He was about to kill a policeman!’. ‘He had it coming!’.
Leaving aside the fact that Carlo wasn’t going to kill anyone (we’ll get back to this, I promise), what seems to be lost on those who feel the right to desecrate every post in Carlo’s memory is this: On the very day of his death, a lot of peaceful demonstrators (I would say particularly those who were demonstrating disarmed and without hiding their faces) were attacked by the police. They were beaten to a pulp with fists, kicks, batons, right in the street, then forced out of the hospitals, someone with nasty fractures, someone with bleeding wounds, and beaten again, stripped of every elementary constitutional right, violated in every possible way. All of this while the Black Bloc were destroying the city undisturbed, untouched, and never charged by the police.

Maybe you (yes, you bunch of idiots, last minute Gandhians who talk about the violent act of raising an empty fire extinguisher over your head with the intention to throw it at the car that tried to run you over just seconds before), you have never seen the fifteen year-old boy repeatedly kicked in his face by a group of policemen commanded by the number two of Digos, the investigative section of the Italian Police. Maybe you have never seen this crying minor, his face reduced to a bloody mess, his eye so swollen that it seems about to explode. Maybe you don’t know that they even tried to charge him for ‘resisting arrest’ and ‘assault’.

Maybe, you haven’t ever seen, in thousands of videos, the women escaping from the clashing hammered by the police with their batons. Maybe you haven’t ever seen, haven’t ever heard, the policewoman who cheers in front of Carlo Giuliani’s body, saying ‘Score one for us’. You haven’t seen the peaceful demonstrators sitting, hands in the air as a sign of submission, beaten by groups of glorified in uniform (and some of those protesters were with children, I remember a father hammered by a policeman while trying to protect his little son).

Maybe, every time you speak about that fire extinguisher, you’d think Carlo Giuliani picked it up like this, you’d think he left his living room already wearing a ski mask, just for the fun of throwing something at a policeman. Maybe you haven’t seen all the things that happened BEFORE Carlo picked up that fire extinguisher, you haven’t seen what would have made thousands, millions of people pick it up, you haven’t seen the police vans trying to run over protesters, chasing them even onto the sidewalks (here you have a scary glimpse).

You haven’t seen those girls and boys and women and men disfigured by the nightsticks, trapped in a cul de sac, beaten for no reason for two hours, with no possible escape.

You don’t know any of this, you don’t have any information about this, so that gesture, that picking up the fire extinguisher, seems to you so illegal, so harsh to deserve – please have the courage to name it properly – an execution.
Because, of course, you’re all very skilled in discussing Carlo Giuliani’s choices when nobody is slaughtering your friends or trying to run you over with a van. You’re all very skilled in the art of distinction. 
When the Internet calls, you’re all Charlie, you’re all Paris, but apparently you have a great deal of problems in being a 23-year-old guy who reacts to the culling of his friends. I don’t need you to picture yourself wearing a ski mask, lifting a fire extinguisher. Yes, you’re so special, so non-violent, so let’s pretend you would have reacted like a Zen monk, calm, meditating. But just picture yourself in that situation, and you can probably understand what brings Carlo in front of Placanica’s gun, and who’s the murderer, between them. 

This is the least you can do, if you really want to talk about this. 
But no.

‘I would have never done it’. ‘I would have never thrown a fire extinguisher’, you keep saying, year after year, from your comfortable sofa, from your tables in a cafeteria, sipping your cocktail. But well, maybe, if you found yourself in that bedlam, with the police vans trying to run over your friends, if you found yourself charged for no reason, repeatedly, for hours, your eyes and your throat up in flames from the chemical gasses used indiscriminately against you, fronting policemen who throw big stones at you, risking killing someone, well, maybe this loveable distinction enunciated at 60 heartbeats per minute and all the self-assurance in the world would not be the first thing that would come to your mind.

Plus, there is always that little detail you constantly miss: Maybe you didn’t notice, but Carlo picks up the fire extinguisher AFTER Placanica is aiming his gun against another guy. AFTER, not before.
So no, he didn’t ‘have it coming’, he didn’t ‘deserve’ to be shot in the head.
‘But he is throwing it, he is about to kill the cop’. No, again. You are badly mistaken.

As the pictures show clearly, Carlo is throwing the fire extinguisher (empty, so of the approximate weight of 3-5 kilos) from a certain distance. He would not even kill a dog, with a hit, in 20 attempts.

Maybe you have never been in a situation like that, but have you ever, at least, seen the hooligans charging the police outside or inside a football stadium? Because there you can witness situations ten times more violent than Carlo’s gesture, and I am pretty sure if twenty hooligans were shot in the head tomorrow during scuffles nobody will ever dare to say ‘they had it coming’.

But I know, you speak like that because you don’t know anything about those days, because you still haven’t realized, even 17 years after those events, what really happened during the Genova G8, what horrors made even Amnesty International define those dramatic hours as ‘The worst violation of human rights in a Eurpoean democratic country after the war’.
Maybe you still didn’t realize, you still don’t know, that after Carlo was shot the police ‘worked’ his body with a stone, they cracked his skull, in a terrible attempt to pin his death on the ‘communists’ who were demonstrating with him. Maybe you have never seen, never heard, the police officer shouting ‘It was you!’ to a passer-by, you have never seen him roaring ‘It was you! With your stone’, then trying to arrest him (luckily for the guy, he ran fast).
Maybe you don’t know what happened in the infamous school ‘Diaz’, where the police brutalized all the people who was sleeping, where they massacred women, elderly, where they almost killed Mark Covell, an English journalist, cracking six ribs, perforating a lung, fracturing his left hand, smashing his teeth and leaving him on the ground with almost no pulse (Mark needed a transfusion of 1.5 litres of blood). Maybe you never heard about all the people seriously injured in the school, you never heard about the fire extinguisher’s foam sprayed into the wounds of a German student, you never heard about the policemen who rubbed his dick in the face of a seriously injured woman. And so on (the testimonies are unbearable). Maybe you didn’t hear about the Molotov cocktails brought into the school by the police to justify the massacre, fabricated evidences that didn’t stop all those policemen from making a shiny career in the following years.

Maybe you don’t know anything about Bolzaneto, about what happened to people who didn’t carry a fire extinguisher, who didn’t wear any ski mask, but nevertheless vanished for hours in the legal vacuum of a police barrack, people who were abused, tortured, threatened with death.

You don’t know about the girl whose piercing were ripped off her face, about the cigarettes extinguished on the detainees’ bodies, you haven’t ever heard about those guys forced to stand on one foot, for hours; you don’t know that one of them had an artificial leg, so he couldn’t bear the position and collapsed. The cops sprayed his eyes with pepper gas and beat him more furiously. You probably didn’t know those guys were forced to sing fascist songs like ‘Faccetta Nera’, you don’t know anything about those guys whose heads were violently slammed against the wall, about those guys immobilised and kicked in their genitals, about those guys who were denied even the possibility of going to the toilet and ended up defecating in their pants. You probably never heard about the guy whose fingers were spread until they broke, until the flesh was stripped from the hand, and then sewed without any anaesthesia. You don’t know about the girl forced to stick her head into the hole of the squat toilet, while she was threatened with rape with a baton. You haven’t ever heard about the policemen who urinated in the open flesh of the wounded. You haven’t heard the cops in Bolzaneto singing: ‘Uno, due, tre, evviva Pinochet, quattro, cinque, sei, a morte gli ebrei, sette otto nove, il negretto non commuove’ (‘One, two, three, hail to Pinochet. Four, five, six, death to the Jews. Seven, eight, nine, the little nigger doesn’t move us’).

However, if you haven’t seen, if you haven’t heard, if you don’t know, why the fuck do you talk, in what universe do you feel the need, the urge, the right to express your opinion? What nerve makes you appear on the Facebook pages of the ones who mourn Carlo Giuliani, even his parents and relatives, and bust their balls? What evil, perverse force pushes you to violate our grief, to profane it? What the hell kind of people are you?

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Francesco Trento

is an Italian writer and screenwriter. He graduated at the University of Rome La Sapienza, and earned a PhD in Contemporary History at the University of Roma III. He is the author of many documentaries and movies, including “Matti per il calcio”, “Stessa spiaggia stesso mare”, “Crazy for football” (awarded best documentary at the David di Donatello, 2017), the TV-series “Brothers in Army” (2014) and “Zero, inchiesta sull’11 settembre”, which he also directed. He published essays and novels, as “Crazy for football” (Longanesi, 2017), “La guerra non era finita” (Laterza, 2014) and, with Aureliano Amadei, Venti sigarette a Nassirya” (Einaudi Stile Libero, 2005). He also wrote the screenplay for the movie “20 Cigarettes” premiered in 2010 at the 67th Movie Festival of Venice and was awarded as best movie in the “Controcampo” section. Since 2005, Francesco plays in the Italian national team of writers, Osvaldo Soriano Football Club, of which he is currently also the coach. http://www.nazionalescrittori.it/trento.html


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