admin On aprile - 11 - 2012

“The most serious suspension of democratic rights in a Western country after the second world war.” Amnesty International.

July 21 2001: 400 police officers raid the Diaz-Pascoli school in Genoa, set up as a social forum, injuring several nonviolent activists in town for the G8. Shortly after midnight, the police storms in the school and brutally attacks these young people for two hours until almost all of them end up in hospital and are later taken to a detention centre. Eventually, to acquit such actions, the police plants Molotov cocktails in the building.

A great cinematographic alliance gave birth to this outstanding movie that won the second of the three prizes awarded by a jury of spectators at 2012’s Berlinale. Daniele Vicari, an established sociopolitical documentarist, winner of the David di Donatello, and the acclaimed producer Domenico Procacci have given a very powerful and clear-headed report of the atrocities that occurred.

Production Company Fandango, has lately concentrated on films dealing with civil rights in Italy such as ‘Le mani forti’ by Franco Bernini and ‘Segreti di Stato’ by Paolo Benvenuti concerning the massacres of Piazza della Loggia and Portella della Ginestra. Most recently the feature ‘Ora o mai più’ by Lucio Pellegrini and the documentary ‘Black Block’ by Carlo A. Bachschmidt focused on the G8 summit’s horrors in Diaz School and in Bolzaneto jail.

Diaz – Don’t clean up this blood is based on a number of key testimonies from both the victims of Diaz and from the police; several of the original footage was used, as well as a number of cases. Vicari has an accurate and reliable eye in his storytelling. The mild polyglot chit chat within the international forum is devoured by the unison cry for mercy towards the brutality of the police unit.

The whole atrocity is triggered by a bottle casually thrown by a protester at a police-car. The lives of several people involved in the drama unveil: Luca (Elio Germano) is a utopian reporter for the newspaper Gazzetta di Bologna; Alma (Jennifer Ulrich) is a German anarchist part of the peaceful anti-globalisation demonstrations; Marco (Davide Iacopini), is the organiser of the Genoa Social Forum; Franci (Camilla Semino) is a young attorney of the Genoa Legal Forum; Nick (Fabrizio Rongione) is a manager who deals with solidarity-based economics; Anselmo (Renato Scarpa) is an old militant of the Italian trade unions; Etienne (Ralph Amoussou) and Camille (Emile de Preissac) are two French anarchists who seem to personify the black block destructive intent but don’t get the chance to carry it out; Max (Claudio Santamaria) is the deputy officer in charge of police force of the VII squad, the situation slips out of his control, as the officers Francesco Scaroni (Paolo Calabresi), Marco Cerone (Alessandro Roja) and many others enjoy the use of their truncheons.

The three day Summit involved the eight major leaders on earth. 300 thousand people came from all over the world for a bottom-up summit, whose motto was “a different world is possible!” It started with the peaceful rallies, then came the riots: Carlo Giuliani killed by a police bullet, 1000 people injured, 280 arrested and many shops and cars destroyed. Amongst the 93 people arrested in Diaz (most of them foreigners), many were taken to the prison of Bolzaneto, without receiving any explanation whatsoever as to why they had been arrested. During their days of captivity they were inflicted the worsT kind of violence and humiliations. Detainees reported being spat at, verbally and physically humiliated, and threatened with rape. The following days they found out of being accused of criminal conspiracy to commit destruction and looting. They were in most part released shortly thereafter because judges declared the charges invalid; all foreigners were expelled from Italy. No European government has ever asked for explanations.

The villains got away with it: torture is a specific felony that lacks regulation in the Italian criminal justice system. Hence, the Court was forced to circumscribe the abominable actions that took place in Bolzaneto. Out of the 300 police officers who took part in the Diaz raids only 29 have been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, use of excessive force and planting evidence; all charges will fall in prescription in 2016. The trial for Carlo Giuliani’s death never took place: all accusations against the Carabiniere who shot him, Mario Placanica, were dropped. The judge ruled that he had acted in self-defence and concluded that the fatal bullet was not directly aimed at Giuliani and had “ricocheted off plaster”. As cherry on top the Italian parliament refused to sign the bill to establish a Committee of Inquiry to examine the G8 summit events. Those who want to delve into the trials may find all related materials on

Some have claimed that Daniele Vicari’s film doesn’t take an adamant position in condemning the politicians who might have induced the police to act so brutally. But the movie’s intention isn’t to support a particular ideology: there is no obsessive search for supposedly hidden motives behind events. The storytelling chooses a factological approach rather than a factious one. It doesn’t pronounce it’s opinion on the origins of the drama, each spectator is free to draw a conclusion on the causes. Nevertheless one cannot but condemn the inexplicable behaviour of the police. Notwithstanding whether a group of rioters wearing black did or did not incite violence, it is deplorable that state institutions, which should represent order and a reassuring reference, acted so barbarously.

At the end of the day the question still comes up: Were Black Blocks actually there, and were they threatening to the point of arousing such an execrable reaction from the police? There are clashing views on this controversial issue. Those who support the idea of black blocks’ interference, pinpoint their vandalistic acts out in the streets of Genoa: outside and far from the Diaz-Pascoli school. Daniele Vicari does not exclude their presence in his movie: he simply locks the vandals in a shop for the entire night, without giving them the chance to act out their ravaging purpose. These people account what truly occurred to a French anarchist who shared similar plans. The stories of all the innocent victims are authentic, the names have been changed to respect the privacy requested by the people directly involved.


The aftermath is that after the policing operation of 2001’s Genoa summit, the Italian authorities are still inactive in taking measures which would effectively promote police accountability. A great number of reports of human rights violations committed by law enforcement officers, prison officers and medical personnel against Italian citizens and foreign nationals emerged immediately and have continued to do so ever since.

Italy must take urgent steps towards the eradication of impunity among law enforcement officers. Such measures include introducing torture as a crime into its penal code, eighteen years after ratifying the UN Convention Against Torture, and thus filling a deplorable and crucial gap in its legal system. Amnesty International further calls on Italy to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture.

After all, as Daniele Vicari has declared, Italy should not forget that it is the very country that gave birth to Cesare Beccaria, jurist, philosopher and politician who in 1764 wrote ‘On Crimes and Punishments’ condemning torture besides death penalty.

by Chiara Spagnoli

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