Report from Genoa, Friday 20 July

Jul 21, 2001

Up to three hundred thousand protesters marched through Genoa this afternoon calling for the G8 to cancel Third World Debt.

The march was almost entirely peaceful, and united different groups from all across Europe. Trade unionists and environmentalists were out in large numbers, and participants also included groups as varied as ATTAC and the Worldwide Fund for Nature. The mood was cheerful.

A tiny minority of people were involved in violence, most of which took place elsewhere in the city, away from the march route. There seems no doubt that police behaviour played a part in provoking the violence. Around 3pm (Genoa time) BBC News 24 broadcast live from Genoa the reports of freelance journalist Adam Porter. He reported that the police were repeatedly and indiscriminately tear gassing peaceful demonstrators with no justification. He stressed that these were not crowd control measures, since the protesters were moving away from police lines. The police were also tear gassing local food sellers and residential areas. The police behaviour was creating a serious risk of crushing and panic.

At 6.30pm, Genoa resembled a “police state” – the atmosphere was tense and everywhere was closed. Protesters were forming groups of several dozen to set off for their transport.

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