ESF Arrests: Report

Nov 20, 2002

ESF Arrests: Report from an Italian Activist and School Student

After the incredible success of the ESF in Florence, which let down all those who had anticipated a tragic devastation of our beautiful monuments, we didn’t have to wait long for an answer of repression.

On the night of the 15th of November, 20 activists from the south of Italy were arrested, including the Neapolitan Francesco Caruso, major figure from the southern Disobbedienti, other Disobbedienti, some members of the COBAS and a few journalists, one of whom, Anna Curcio, is accused of the reports from Radio Gap in Genoa (Radio Gap is considered in the order of arrest a dangerous revolutionary name because it has the same initials of Feltrinelli’s terrorist Gruppi di Azione Partigiana).
After a week four activists have been put to domiciliary arrests, and three have been freed, because, according to the judges, “they declared that they repudiate violence”, when they never said anything of the sort.
The charges against the activists, political conspiracy and subversive association, were used to arrest Giuseppe Mazzini, a number of communists during fascism, and quite a few people in the seventies. They are what in criminal law is called “presumed danger crimes”, which means that you don’t have to actually do anything violent or illegal, but you can be pleaded guilty for what you say or write. For example, Caruso is being charged for an action in a temporary work agency, Adecco, not because there is any proof against him but because after the action he said he approved of it.
Among the means of “plot”, the throwing of vegetables at the police during the demonstration in Naples last year, in which the police charged the demonstrators, and in general charges that could apply to almost any activist.
At the Rome demonstration Saturday 16th (a wide participation if we consider it was planned the day before), what I heard most people say was: “it could have been any one of us”. It’s true. If fighting for a different world, going to demonstrations and working for alternative information is a crime, then we are all criminals. But maybe who really “harms the economic organization of the State” or “threatens the Constitution” (other charges against the activists) is our government….
Did these arrests come from a moment of madness from the judges in Cosenza, or is there a wider plan behind them? I would definitely describe this whole action as clumsy, and the judges from Cosenza are going beyond their jurisdiction, because the same people had not been charged by the courts of Naples and Genoa, but there is no doubt that we are witnessing the revenge for Florence, an attempt to criminalize the entire movement.
Yet I believe there is also another key to understand what happened. Berlusconi has been saying for a long time that Italian judges are politicised and persecute him only for political reasons. Now he has proved that this is, in the Cosenza case, true, and all the left-wing forces are using his same phrases. This, together with the conviction of senator Andreotti and the new proposals of gracing Adriano Sofri, prepares the ground for the so much yearned reform of the judiciary system.
Who thought that this could in any way harm the movement was wrong. The big demonstration of Saturday 23rd in Cosenza (100.000 people from all over Italy) not only proves that the movement is strong and determined, but it also gave the movement the occasion to “go south”. And showed that Cosenza, a town which never witnessed a demonstration like this one, was open, joyful, determined to fight for the freedom of its absurdly arrested citizens and proud to host such an event.

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