Repression, Resistance & Dirty Tricks in Italy - Black Flag

From Black #218 1999.

Submitted by Fozzie on September 12, 2020

In Bologna a squatted anarchist centre (Laboratoria Anarchico Paglietta) was evicted on May 25. Inside Andrea and Sara were sleeping. The police, together with the media, were looking for Andrea, a well-known anarchist. Luckily he escaped through a hidden hole behind a wardrobe. Sara was arrested for obstructing the police, put into jail and then, being pregnant, placed under house arrest.

All of this started because a DS office in Bologna had been burned during the war. DS is Italy's left party in power. Almost 30 offices had been burned all over Italy during the war. In the squat the police had found a poster signed 'Individualita Anarchiche', a name used to sign posters in Italy for years, but in Bologna some military tanks had been burned some months ago, and a flyer left at the scene was signed 'Individualita Anarchiche'.

So, using this as ammunition, the police dreamed up a conspiracy involving 18 people. There were about 30 raids around Bologna, seven warrants were issued and eleven people were told to report to police stations daily, 16 of the 18 suspects went into hiding, as they realised what was going on. Only a guy named Tornmaso was put into jail, and Sara was found at her home. Her charge is no longer "obstructing the police'", but "forming a subversive organisation", which is a really serious accusation in Italy.

After a month or so there was a successful application to the 'Court of Justice' as there was no proof to back up the charges. The 18 people have now been freed on remand, but charges have not been dropped. The accusations are of squatting different places, flyposting, creating a disturbance in a square and a theft — not burning DS offices or tanks! The activists had already been charged for the former and were awaiting sentences. So the 'subversive organisation' was only an invention to allow a heavier sentences. In the past few years we have seen the 'ORA'. conspiracy, (see Black Flag 206 and onwards] the 'Gray Wolves' in Val Di Susa [BF 215] and now this. The first didn't work, the second managed to kill Edo and Sole. Don't let them get away with this one.
Innsbruck ABC

The above must be seen in the context of widespread criminalisation of militant grassroots opposition movements in Italy. This is nothing new. The huge social movements of the 70s were smashed by dirty tricks and criminalisation. As another Italian militant writes:

So, it's again repression against the social centres. It's not unexpected, because we learnt that as soon as you really bother the authorities they unleash all kinds of hounds and servants. But will what happened take us back to the 80s: cold war, secret services and terrorism? Just in this last month, June, we had 12 people sued in Milan for reclaiming the streets, demonstrating against the US consulate and burning an Italian flag hanging outside a police station: the 12 are accused of 16 'crimes'.

On April 25, the social centre 'Askatasuna' in Turin was completely smashed by a dirty squad of anti-riot police. The Mayor of Milan declared that in the grassroots trade unions which promoted the general strike against the Kosovo war, involving more than one million workers, there are "signs of terrorist committees". Interrogated later by the police, the Major could not specify the name of a single terrorist.

Mr D'Antona, a shy and dutiful bureaucrat working for the Ministry of Labour, was killed in Rome by a supposed 'Red Brigade' group, Analysis of the communication claiming responsibility for the murder reveals a very different style from that of the old Red Brigade, and the famous five tops star is different from the traditional one.

In late July, seven arrests were made in Naples for an unauthorised demonstration by unemployed people. They were released a few days later. At the beginning of August warrants were issued for 40 Milan militants for "Illegal association aimed at terrorist actions", What next?

All this shows a very simple thing: they are scared. So, whoever opposes power from beneath, from the people's point of view, must bear the label of terrorist — the general strike against the Kosovo war must have rang alarm bells in many important heads, The Social Centres are not terrorists. So the authorities produce a "spectacular murder" to prove that terrorists still exist amongst the militants. Against this, all the squats and Social Centres in Milan will organise a large mass demonstration in September, possibly a national demo — peaceful, colourful and as united as possible.