Police at Genoa

Don’t Tread On Me!


Maybe something on the activist culture or the methods and modes of resistance that have grown and evolved through years of opposition. I was expecting to find some lengthy thought-piece by a convoluted academic about Foucaldian “Biopower” or post-structuralist resistance (or other such indecipherable nonsense). To my surprise, I actually found a series of criminology articles, loads of them. Not really satisfied with this, I started to use different terms and search articles on particular summits that had happened across the globe, again I was greeted by-and-large with a bunch of criminology journals. This started to get me interested. Why were criminologists so concerned about the G8 and seemingly prolific with their views on the subject? I decided to take a chance and delve into a few of the pieces.Police at Genoa

A policy paper entitled “velvet gloves and iron fists: Taking the Violence out of International Protests” caught my eye. I started to have a browse through and it was, to say the least, enlightening. It read as a “how to” guide for state political and social control, outlining in great detail how the police, army and even the fire brigade could be used to control and limit the impact of political protests. It recommended detailed video surveillance of any protesters entering and leaving the area (from the ground and the sky), undercover officers amongst the crowds accompanied by the threat of a huge (but hidden) police and military presence in case protesters (horror upon horror!) occupied public parks in the locality.

The G8 protests for many law enforcement officials represent a great time to test out every new crowd control gadget they have been itching to take for a test drive. Activists are drenched, battered, blasted, sprayed and even shot at if they attempt to put up any kind of resistance to the whims of the officers in charge on the day. In many cases this violence is politically motivated. During the G8 protests in Genoa, for example, Premier Silvio Berlusconi insisted police used the “maximum amount of force necessary” to silence the protests. This was clearly designed as a show of strength to the other world leaders, a demonstration that Italy could stabilise voices of dissent against the summit. The affects were devastating with militarised police units raiding the indymedia centre, seizing anything they could find and beating activists in their beds. This brutality turned to tragedy when 23 year-old anarchist Carlo Giuliani was shot and killed by a military policeman in clashes with protestors. Yet in the face of such repression still the voices of dissent continue. Every year witness’s huge numbers of protesters arrested attempting to make their voices heard at the summits. Security forces have perfected social control down to a fine art and, as has been shown, will use any means necessary to make sure that those in charge are isolated from us “commoners”. But as long as injustice and inequality exists we will continue to resist and continue to struggle for a freer and better world.