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DANCING – OR YAWNING – ON THE GRAVE OF CARLO GIULIANI


Solomon

After

a police officer shot Carlo Giuliani in the head, Time magazine published a

requiem of sorts — explaining that the 23-year-old Italian protester pretty

much got what he deserved.

"One

man died in Genoa; a man, we must presume, who was swayed by the false promise

that violence — not peaceful protest, not participation in the democratic

process — is the best way to advance a political cause," Time’s article

concluded. "It is not too much to hope that the next time his friends stoop to

pick up a cobblestone, they will remember a lesson learned when plows first

broke the Mesopotamian earth: You reap what you sow."

The

sanctimonious tone, etched with gratification, was not unique to the largest

newsmagazine in the United States. Quite a few commentators seemed to accept —

or even applaud — the killing of Giuliani as rough justice. "Excuse me if I

don’t mourn for the young man who was shot dead by police during the economic

summit," wrote Houston Chronicle columnist Cragg Hines. "It was tragic, but he

was asking for it, and he got it."

In

Genoa, assaults by Italian police were systematic and widespread, causing

hundreds of serious injuries. But American news accounts tended to be cryptic.

"Italian police raided a school building housing activists and arrested all 92

people inside," the Wall Street Journal reported on July 23. "Afterward, the

building was covered with pools of blood and littered with smashed computers.

Several reporters at the school were hurt; one had his arm broken. Police said

61 of the detainees had been wounded in riots that preceded the raid, but

neighbors described hours of beatings and screaming coming from the school

during the raid."

On

July 25, when I called the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Manhattan-based

group had not yet issued a statement. But program director Richard M. Murphy

told me: "CPJ is extremely concerned by reports that working journalists were

attacked by both police and protesters while covering street demonstrations at

the Genoa summit." The comment was evenhanded to a fault. The vast majority of

the reported attacks on journalists were by police.

Unlike colleagues assaulted while displaying press credentials, reporter John

Elliott was on an undercover assignment among protesters. Watching a water

cannon move through tear gas, "I felt a massive blow to the back of my head," he

wrote in the Sunday Times of London. "For a second my vision whited out. I had

been hit by a police truncheon."

As

more police ran toward him, Elliott quickly tried to regain his journalistic

identity by yelling, "Giornalista inglese!" But the clubbing went on. "Two

policemen dragged me along the ground, shouted at me in Italian and then hit me

some more. My cycling helmet disintegrated under their blows. Truncheons whacked

my back, arms and shins. They dragged me over railway lines towards a signal box

where I was ordered to put my head on a steel rail. I tried to obey, unable to

believe this was happening. Gripped by fresh impulses of violence, they started

kicking my head, back and legs. Repeatedly they pushed me to the ground for a

fresh pasting."

News

accounts routinely declared that the fatality in Genoa was unprecedented. But an

essay in the London-based Guardian debunked that media myth. "The members of the

Landless Movement of Brazil (MST) could tell you that Carlo Giuliani … is not

the first casualty of the movement challenging neoliberal globalization around

the world," Katharine Ainger wrote. "The MST suffer ongoing persecution for

their campaign for land reform in Brazil, their opposition to the World Bank’s

program of market-led land reform and to the corporate control of agriculture

through patents on seed."

Ainger cited other deaths that have gone virtually unreported in mass media:

"Recently, three students protesting against World Bank privatization were shot

in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Young men fighting World Bank-imposed water

privatization have been tortured and killed in Cochabamba, Bolivia."

Meanwhile, around the planet, those who perish from lack of food or drinkable

water or health care have little media presence. The several thousand children

who die from easily preventable diseases each morning, and afternoon, and

evening, remain largely media abstractions. When will news outlets really

scrutinize the profit-driven violence that takes their lives?

While

such institutionalized violence is massive and continuous, supporters of

corporate globalizing agendas benefit from the propaganda value of the street

violence by "Black Bloc" participants in Genoa (who, according to eyewitness

accounts, comprised no more than 2 percent of the protesters there). It would be

surprising if those Black Bloc units were not heavily infiltrated by

government-paid provocateurs and the like. Historically, covert police agents

have often pushed for — and helped to implement — violent actions in isolation

from a mass base. In sharp contrast, there is scant record of police agents

trying to foment militant, nonviolent civil disobedience on a large scale.

A

global movement with literally millions of participants is continuing to

organize against the colossal daily violence of the world’s biggest

institutions. Progressive websites that are genuinely grassroots and

international — like

www.indymedia.org and

www.zmag.org — reflect vibrant resistance to a corporatized future. Other

futures are possible, to the extent that people are determined to create them.

 

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