Media Missing New Evidence About Genoa Violence

Remember the protests in Genoa, Italy, in July, 2001, when violent protesters demonstrating outside a G8 summit clashed with police in a brutal melee that left one dead, a protester shot by a police officer, and dozens injured on both sides of the barricades? As it turns out, the picture painted by the American media at the time was largely a lie, says media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR).

A recent FAIR advisory details the body of new evidence that has come to light in an Italian parliamentary inquiry, in which the Genoa police “have admitted to fabricating evidence against globalization activists in an attempt to justify police brutality during [the] protests.” The most egregious offense was a police raid on the school that served as headquarters of the Genoa Social Forum, where 72 of the 93 activists arrested suffered injuries, some critical. All were later released without charge, but not before police planted two molotov cocktails at the site to provide a justification for their actions.

This unfolding story, of extreme police brutality and an overwhelmingly militaristic response to the 100,000-plus largely peaceful demonstrators, has been covered widely in the European press. Yet, FAIR has “been unable to find a single mention of this development in any major U.S. newspapers or magazines, national television news shows, or wire service stories.”

Why the U.S. media blackout? The truth–that the vast majority of the protesters were actually peaceful victims of police overreaction–pokes an inconvenient hole in the mainstream media’s sensationalistic portrayal of every globalization protest since Seattle in 1999. “Genoa,” like the “Battle of Seattle,” has “become a kind of shorthand for ‘violent protesters,'” says FAIR.

Despite the U.S. media’s fondness for “dramatic stories about protester/police ‘clashes,'” FAIR concludes, “…the right to peaceful assembly is central to democracy. The public deserves…follow-up investigations of what happened at Genoa’s ‘violent’ protests.”

–Leif Utne
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