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On the use of police power to suppress revolutionary movements

Greg Macdougall

we are lucky to have the police to protect us from violent radicals and criminals.

At least, that's what the mainstream media would have us believe. It turns out they couldn't be further from the truth. But most people are probably unaware of what's really happening with the growing protest movement that is following the meetings of world leaders around the world.

The protests at the G-8 meetings in Genoa, Italy on July 20-22 were a perfect example of the police (carabinieri) abusing their power to stop people from taking part in democracy. The stories coming out of Italy (from the people, not the mass media) show that the police were clearly, illegally removing the protestors' right to protest, using their own forces to act as Black Bloc and give them an excuse to violently attack the non-violent protestors.

The hired Black Bloc would attack protestors, then the police would ignore the Black Bloc, instead gassing and attacking the non-violent protestors and then arresting the non-violent protestors while letting the Black Bloc walk away unimpeded.

Things came to a head early Sunday morning, as police raided the Independent Media Centre (www.indymedia.org) and seized and destroyed material collected by independent journalists and evidence of police brutality that lawyers were preparing to use on behalf of arrested protestors.

While police had the IMC people lined up against the wall, more were entering the school across the street in which members of the Genoa Social Forum were sleeping. They were in for a rude awakening, and an even ruder beating, as the cops let loose on the activists. Broken bones, crushed skulls, and blood all over the walls and floors testify to the amount of violence used.

It's just that most people didn't get to hear about it. The story didn't make it to the major media. The only thing you got to hear through them was the one death ('shot twice in the head in self-defence') plus the violence attributed to the protestors. If the media is this complicit in letting the police get away with the level of violence they perpetrated onto protestors, is it any wonder that the majority of people do not understand the protests and what they are about, as they see them through the major media.

President Bush says people are sick of the violence at the protests; he's probably right. Which is probably why the police are starting the violence to ensure the protests are not recognized as legitimate.

But there's a new bid in to move into the major media, and it's a lot better bet than Toronto's Olympic bid. The birth of the Independent Media Centre (IMC) around the anti-WTO protests in Seattle only two years ago was the uniting point of a growing movement of alternative media. It has used the Internet to bypass the barriers to entry that have traditionally kept independent media small and isolated.

And it's making a difference. The real story of Genoa is getting out - it's just taking a little longer to get out, since indymedia hasn't captured the full attention of the world yet. But that's only a matter of time (and not a whole lot), as it becomes apparent to more and more people that one side is telling the truth and the other side is not.

The indymedia movement is being legitimized by the corporate media's refusal to deliver the real story. My personal efforts to help the corporate media cover this story included talking to the news editor of my local paper (the Kitchener Record, part of the TorStar chain) and forwarding her the press release from the IMC (available at ontario.indymedia.org, article #1379). However, my efforts were ignored as that particular paper had it's own Associated Press story to tell about Genoa.

Either the corporate media is going to change the way they work, fast, or something profound will happen as people realize they're being lied to. Or, I guess, the police / media / government collaboration could just shut this whole thing down, and it will be back to business as usual.

For more on the Genoa protests, see italia.indymedia.org.


Greg Macdougall is a senior undergrad math student at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, in the math / teaching option program. He is also a writer and sports editor at the UW student newspaper, Imprint, and a volunteer at the Independent Media Centre in Kitchener-Waterloo.

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