Genoa and Kent State
by Geov Parrish
WorkingForChange.com website, 7.21.01
It's a war With brutal killing of protester, depths of division
It's official. It's a war.
For some 20 months, from Seattle through Washington and Melbourne
and Windsor and Philadelphia and Los Angeles and Prague and Quebec
and Goteborg, tactics have been escalating on both sides as the
protests against gatherings of the world's unabashedly ruling
elites have gotten larger and more raucous. In Seattle, some 50,000
nonviolent protesters and blockaders were overshadowed by literally
a few dozen window-breaking vandals. By the time of Quebec and
Goteborg, large blocks of protesters had embraced property destruction
and the hurling of everything from teddy bears to Molotov cocktails.
On the police state side, the brutality that shocked the world
in Seattle was actually a step removed from what it could have
been, as National Guard troops with live ammunition stood by but
never opened fire. As the protests have escalated, the wholesale
use of chemical warfare against protesters--whether they were
breaking any laws or not--has, at least in the public eye, become
old news, and to many people an acceptable price to pay to keep
the "hoodlums" at bay. The media has surely helped;
in Quebec and Goteborg, the worst of the police mayhem, like today's
shooting in Genoa, was best covered not by the combined resources
of the world's elite media, but by indymedia.org. The networks
almost uniformly ignore it.
And now, in Italy, someone is dead. It was coming to this.
Make no mistake. For all of its sometimes blind rage, the
global movement to confront the corrupt, corporate, anti-democratic,
soul-deadening, lethal policymakers shaping the rules of 21st
Century Corporatocracy has those policymakers terrified. In many
of the so-called Western democracies where these protests have
blossomed, the politicians enforcing corporate will are creatures
of their paymasters--but they also get elected by feeding on the
distrust and discontent of the general public for government.
They know perfectly well that if that public turns on them, the
movement to reclaim our lives is literally unstoppable. Hence,
the marginalization. Anti-corporate protesters are thugs; they're
not like you and I. Except that they are, and if suitably afraid,
the police would shoot us, too.
The steady demonization of global justice protestors by politicians
and corporate media has created an opening for sectors of the
public to dismiss even cold-blooded murder as a necessary, even
useful thing. This is particularly true in the U.S., where our
"liberal" public radio, NPR, reported on the Genoa death--after
several minutes' reporting on the activities of George Bush--thusly:
"[the protestor] was shot and killed by a wounded police
officer. Italian officials says the officer acted in self-defense."
NPR didn't bother to explain how, exactly, one can back a
vehicle over a mortally wounded civilian in "self-defense."
Other reports even suggested that the protester was shot by another
protester. But anyone who has witnessed the video--which, within
hours, included a lot of the world--will reach a differrent and
far more horrifying conclusion. They will have witnessed, with
one death, the ugly underside of a global corporate state that
casually kills millions each year.
Genoa is reminiscent of nothing so much as Kent State, where,
after hundreds of thousands (at least) of deaths in Southeast
Asia, it took the deaths of four young students on a Midwest campus
to galvanize opposition and transform the US anti-war movement
into a force that shut down campuses across the country for a
full season. Recall that at the time of Kent State, the general
public's opinion, shaped by contemptuous politicians and a judgmental
media, was that the Guardsmen acted properly and that the Kent
State students were thugs who had it coming. It will be interesting
to see whether, 30 years later, we are more desensitized, or more
discerning, or whether global technology and global issues will
mean that this atrocity has consequences across 24 time zones.
Power, the quote goes, concedes nothing without a struggle.
As the global justice movement has gained in momentum and efficacy--
on many fronts, not just the street protest spectacles--the retributions
have gotten and will continue to get harsher. World leaders cannot
now meet anywhere on the planet--even Qatar-- without a challenge.
That good deed won't go unpunished. If the people lead, another
saying goes, the leaders will follow.
But not before the leaders will try to shoot them. Again.
Geov Parrish is a Seattle-based columnist and reporter for
Seattle Weekly, In These Times and Eat the State! He writes the
weekdaily Straight Shot for WorkingForChange. If you would like
to be alerted as soon as his column is posted, please send a request