Genoa protester tells of beatings, abuse, retinal scans by cops

An alledged first person account of unbelievable police activities in Genoa Italy during the G8 protests.

[Minor formatting changes introduced to aid readability — RA]


I declare that this is a true and honest statement
which I have written
Friday 27th July 2001. I permit it to be used by other
individuals and
who support me and all the other people arrested at
the Scolastico A.
and surrounding area on the night of Saturday 21st
July 2001. I state
that I
wish to sue the Italian police for illegal arrest,
kidnapping and
torture and I ask
for support in doing this. Please contact me via

I went to Genoa to participate in the mass
demonstrations against the
G8 and
its policies. I went because I believe in a free and
equal society with
living in harmony with each other and the ecological
system. I flew out
with my
friend Dan McQuillan on Tuesday 17th July (our return
flight was on
23rd July) on Ryan Air from Stansted to Genoa.
On Saturday night we were staying at the Scolastico A.
Diaz. The school
having renovation work done on it but as far as I was
aware, it was
occupied and the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.
It was directly
the media centre and the Genoa Social Forum
administrative base.
It was a big building with several floors, old with
high ceilings.
Through the
front doors was a large hallway. On the left was a
ramp leading up to a
line of
computers. To the left of that were stairs leading to
the first floor
Dan and I were staying.
The room we stayed in had a window view onto the
courtyard at the front
of the
school and was directly opposite the media centre with
a narrow road
I went to bed about 12 o’clock on Saturday night.
Staying in the room
was Dan
and a guy from New Zealand who I now know to be Sam
Buchanan. I was
dozing off
and then I suddenly heard a crashing, roaring sound
coming from
outside. I
quickly got out of my sleeping bag and looked out of
the window. I saw
a mass
of police made up of squads from various cities (I
know this from the
documents that the judge gave me when I was released)
filling the

One of my memories was of the police with shields
charging down the
followed by 2 police vans. There were people in the
street shouting and
screaming. It was a nightmare of sound. I presume that
this is the
point that
Mark Covell (another UK national) was critically
injured by the police
as he
was crossing the street.
I began rapidly putting my clothes on and looked out
of the window
again. I saw
the police van ram the school gates. We began to push
our bags into the
of the room hoping that if they came along the
scaffolding that the
wouldn’t see us. I heard people screaming in pain from
downstairs. It
about a few minutes before the police smashed down the
door to our

They smashed our door down and had a large
searchlight, which they
shone into
the room. As soon as they saw us they were on us.
There was maybe about
a dozen
of them, it was complete chaos. Dan was completely
battered by them all
his left side, he had his wrist broken and he had
blows to the head.
Sam was
battered over the head three time when I met him in
the prison
afterwards, he
said that each time he was hit that it was like in a
cartoon book as he
stars and sparkles from the force of the blows. I
received blows while
we were
on the floor and have bruises, but nothing in
comparison with the
others. I
don’t know how long this lasted, maybe just a couple
of minutes, maybe
a bit
longer. I could feel the venom and hatred from them.
They eventually left the room and as we lay there in a
pool of blood
they threw
some of the window frames and other furniture on top
of us.

It was as
if they
were the destroy squad and then a minute or so later
came the
squad. They told us to get out of the room and as we
went down the
stairs the
police were lined up and were hitting us with their
batons. It was as
if they
had gone berserk and they were getting in each others
way trying to get
We moved down the ramp into the main hall area. We
were told to get on
floor and had to lie kneeling on the floor, head down
and arms
stretched out in
front. At one point someone who I assume had been
badly beaten up
outside was
brought into the hall on a stretcher. This lasted
about maybe 15-20
minutes (it
was difficult to tell the passage of time in this
situation) till the
workers and ambulances arrived. Dan was bleeding

The ambulance crew arrived and began ripping up
cardboard boxes to make
as they did not have enough equipment to deal with the
number of broken
Of the 93 people arrested, over 60 went to hospital
and remember, this
not for minor injuries but for broken bones and head
trauma. One man
completely battered down his back and did not go to
Dan was put on an ambulance trolley and I was holding
his hand and
I demanded to go with Dan to the ambulance because he
was in such a
state and
could not speak Italian. The police were reluctant to
let me leave but
paramedics insisted that I came. With them we made our
way to the
outside. As we were leaving the building, the police
tried to rip a
money belt
off Dan. I unclipped it so they wouldn’t hurt Dan
further. One cop
flicking through the money belt and we haven’t seen it
since. It
Dan’s passport, at least one credit card and several
hundred pounds of
and Italian money.

We were taken to the Galliera (?) Hospital, in Genoa.
In the ambulance
the crew
were really friendly to us, in the hospital with
police around they
were not.
It felt like a police state with police in complete
command. I sat in
waiting room while Dan was being treated. I felt
terrified. I saw a pay
and had a phone card on me. I rang my girlfriend Mel
and another friend
Saturday 1.10am British time. I left a message that we
had been
attacked and
that I was OK but Dan was in hospital badly injured.
When trying to
make a
third call I was stopped by a police officer.

The people taken to hospital had fairly serious
injuries and had to sit
chairs waiting. The police had taken over the
hospital. As I understand
people with such traumas (eg head injuries) should be
under medical
for 24 hours. There was a group of about a dozen of us
in the hallway,
police guard. They then started moving us to a police
van. I had to sit
on the
floor for the journey. Dan was also in the van. We
were driven to a
centre called Bolzenato (I was told later by other
prisoners I am not
sure if
this is the correct spelling or name). It did not
appear to be an
police station or prison. It was a place of a terror
and fear.
On getting out of the van the first thing we had to do
was to put our
hands up
and face the wall with legs apart (in a spread-eagled
position). The
were kicking our feet apart if they thought that our
feet were too
together. One police officer who kicked my legs looked
about 18 years
old (I
was old enough to be his father!). We were made to
face the wall in
position and there was a row of us. A police officer
came behind me and
speaking English in an Italian accent said ‘who is
your government’.
The person
before me in the row had answered ‘Polizei’, so I said
the same. I was
of being beaten.

I think at this point they took our
names and
They then took us to a cell. The cell was quite large
with a high
heavily barred windows and high doors. We were told to
sit down with
our backs
against the wall. People in the cell, especially young
people were
crying a lot
of the time. They were traumatised. I tried to lock
inside myself, stay
and strong.
At one point we had to stand with our hands against
the wall, arms up
for an
hour and 15 minutes with police screaming abuse at us.
For all I knew
there was
a police officer behind me with a truncheon ready to
beat me across the
There were different voices screaming abuse, I was
lucky I didn’t
Italian. My hands and arms went dead, I felt strange
sensations in my
palms. It
was helpful to me to meditate, to focus my mind. It
was physically hard
keep that position for even a short length of time.
Dan with a broken
wrist and
head injuries also had to do this.

The cell itself was freezing, the floor had ceramic
tiles and it was
cold even
in the daytime. I had on a cotton shirt and jeans
only. Dan was wearing
and a thin shirt, he did manage to get a sleeping bag,
I can’t remember
from, but we all shared it. At one point the police
took Dan out of the
We didn’t know what was going to happen to him. Later
on I heard this
shouting ‘please help me, please help me’ over and
over. This was
torture, it
was psychological and physical warfare. The torture
consisted of:
· Physical abuse (blows etc)
· Sleep deprivation
· Having to endure cold temperatures with no
· Food and water deprivation
· Refusal to have any access to outside world
· Forced into spreadeagled position
· Verbal abuse
· Extreme intimidation (eg people disappearing and
then screams start)
Anyone in there who looked punk or scruffy was getting
a really hard
time. There was an American guy in there in his 30’s, I saw
his back on
Tuesday and
he was completely battered, all over his back. He’d
said that when the
was raided he was beaten on his back. Every time they
beat him they cut
more of his dreadlocks off till they’d cut all his
locks off. A woman
when she was attacked by the police (at the school),
they cut off a
lump of
hair (and her appearance was very straight). It felt
like they were

A man said that he was beaten on the back when he had
his arms up. I
was hit
in the face when the police were strip searching me,
it was an
blow. Dan said it was important to scream when the
police hit you in
order to
deflect them from beating you further.
The most threatening police officers there we called
the ‘grey
monsters’. They
were enormous, similar to bouncers. They had grey
uniforms, body
armour, and
big boots.
Whenever you had to go to the toilet, a police officer
(sometimes a
monster’, sometimes another type of officer) would
‘escort’ you by
holding the
flesh at the back of the neck and walking you so you
were bent over,
almost bent over double. You were unable to see
anything or know who
else was
there. With at least two of the cells, they hung
sheets over the doors
so you
could not see inside at all. I remember seeing one
cell through the
corner of
my eye with I think two people inside with their arms
up the walls. It
I was held in these conditions from about 5 am Sunday
morning till 6 am
morning, about 24 hours.

Later I found that other
people were held for
During this time we suffered sleep deprivation. Groups
of police were
at the door and at the window, shouting across the
room, yelling and
I saw Dan and another prisoner being spat on by police
The floor was freezing cold with no blankets. For the
first six hour we
had no
food or water. About midday they brought us two very
small biscuits
on in the afternoon they gave us about dozen ham rolls
which we shared
the fourteen of us. I would have thought that they
knew many of us were
We had to stand with our arms up facing the wall 3 or
4 times but there
was no
attempt to question us (although as far as I know,
some prisoners might
been interrogated I just did not hear of this
happening). They also
counting us and asking our names frequently, which
often seemed to be
more than a deliberate disruption.

I had now been without sleep since Saturday morning (I
had only just
gone to
bed when the police raided), by Monday night I was
hallucinating and
very paranoid. Many people had similar experiences.
One man did not
know that
he was even in Genoa, he was in such a state.
Depriving people of sleep
was a
completely deliberate policy by the police. Every half
an hour to an
hour they
would begin shouting and yelling. At no point were we
allowed access to
The police began processing people about 3am (?) on
Monday morning. I
photographed directly onto a laptop, and they also
used an eye camera,
presumably to take a retina scan and I was
fingerprinted. I was asked
to strip
and squat.
Eventually I was put into a cell on a bus and cuffed
tightly to another
prisoner. It was around 6 am when we in this bus (I
believe that it was
first bus, the prisoners whose surname started early
in the alphabet
were taken to Pavia prison.

As we were taken up the
stairs into the
prison I
received a blow to my back by a prison officer in a
dark section of the
stairwell. It was around maybe 9 am Monday morning
that I was taken to
a cell
on my own. There was a mattress and blanket and
thankfully it was
warmer. It
sounds odd but I was relieved to be in prison. At a
later point I was
taken to
another cell. I was given pasta with meat in, even
though I had told
officer that I was vegetarian.
Between coming into the prison on about 7 am Monday
and leaving it at
Wednesday I had no exercise even though I requested it
on many
Dan managed to see a lawyer sometime on Tuesday. He
bought back news of
30,000 strong demonstration it Milan against the
shooting and the
beatings by
the Italian police and the fact that there was massive
opposition to
brutal repression. It was very encouraging for me,
sometimes I believed
maybe we might have been forgotten about even though I
knew that was
not true.
He also managed to send out a telegram. I requested
a lawyer and
access and to be able to send a telegram, I completed
the relevant
forms but
was not granted any of my requests.

It wasn’t until
later on Tuesday
6 pm
that I received a telegram from my girlfriend Mel.
On Wednesday morning Dan was taken off to the judge,
as were many other
prisoners. I started getting worried and I expected
the worse, maybe
that I
would have serious charges brought against me and that
I would be
framed by
But later on Wednesday afternoon I was taken in front
of the judge, who
arrived at the prison. There was a lawyer present from
the Genoa Social
I had to explain to the judge about the nature of the
arrest, and
whether I
any connections to the black block. This interview
took about 10
minutes. I
then taken back to my cell and then brought in front
of the judge again
15 minutes. The judge said the arrest was illegal and
that there would
be no
charges made against me, and that I was free to go. I
was released at
about 6
pm on Wednesday evening into police detention.

There were about 60-100 people protesting outside the
police station
they stayed there till at least 4.45 am the next
morning to clap and
cheer as
people were being released. That was fantastic and I
know all the
really appreciated that active solidarity.
I was met by lawyers from the Genoa Social Forum and a
lawyer called
Louisa (?). The Germans who were detained were
deported to the German
The Germans had a large escort of police to take them
to the border.
Lithuanian guy had no money, passport or documents and
the Lithuanian
were not contactable. I gave him some money and asked
the lawyers to
him. Local people brought us food and clothes. The
consulate staff were
there to meet us at the prison and they stayed with us
all the time in
police station for which I am grateful.
We were all released without charge, yet we have been
banned from
Italy for 5 years. But this is from an illegal arrest.
The reason given
that I am ‘a danger to public order and security’. The
lawyers made
protests against the imposed deportation order and we
against the it, however we were taken to a Milan
airport and basically
there with no passports or money, all we had was a
letter from the
police. We
had to pay for our own flights for our own
Despite the fact that we were being deported by the
italisan state, we
had to
each buy our own tickets costing £230 each we arrived
at Heathrow on

In conclusion, it felt like the beginning of a police
state, like how,
example, Pinochet seized power in Chile. There was no
rule of law or
for constitutional rights. The police were genuinely
the government.
But I do
not blame Italian people for this, many Italian people
gave me much
and support I blame the Italian police and the
Italian state for what
and I call upon them to be bought to account for their
I would like to end by saying that I am not
intimidated or frightened
by this
police brutality. I am determined that the police and
their political
will not get away with this. There have been hundreds
of thousands of
all around the world supporting us and opposing the
G8. There is a huge
for change and I am proud to be part of it.

Signed Jonathan Norman Blair
Friday 27th July 2001


News Service: Politechbot


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