Today in Val di Susa: commentary of brutalities

28.06.2011 - Val di Susa - Olivier Turquet

Detailed report of the attack at the Maddalena, seen from the barricade of the motorway, nicknamed Stalingrad.

It was 4.40 a.m. when that kind of vigilic half-sleep that we allowed ourselves for a couple hours was swept away by the cracking of the fireworks that gave the announcement: they are coming!

As long as you don’t live it, you cannot understand what it means being woken up in the middle of the night, having to get ready in a hurry to face an imminent attack. We arrived running to the area where all were getting organised to face the announced attack. We decided go down to the barricade of the electric power plant, but after almost an hour waiting we decided to come back up again, also because we continued to receive news of break-through attempts by the police on the motorway front.

We arrived just in time to see Turi, an historical exponent of nonviolence, climb over the guardrail and be arrested by the police. He will be released at the end of the morning.

After a few minutes of stalemate, the excavators arrived and the presence of as many people as possible was requested on the barricade.

We arrived to take the place of our friends who for the past 2 hours had been hanging on to the wire meshes, while the excavators, fitted with metal cutting snips started devastating the guardrail. It was a pathetic spectacle to see the police destroy a motorway to surround a few hundred protesters, while the fire brigade (!!!) used the hydrants to shield the excavators.

Our friends on the mountain slope threw vegetable peel, oil and paint to slow down the work of the excavator, while others discharged fire extinguishers, creating a smoking effect.

After finishing the destruction of the guardrail and the noise-dampening protections, the excavator tried wrecking the barricade, but we did not climb down and they could not risk an accident with the metal cutting snips.

For the sake of honest commentary I must say that, sporadically, some of our friends threw rocks towards the excavator, but they were immediately stopped by the majority of nonviolent protesters that were crowding against the barrier of the motorway.

They then started to launch tear-gas. We immediately became intoxicated, and I tell you this anecdote to make you understand what kind of dangerous rioter I am: while the police were launching the tear-gas and our friends wearing gloves tried returning them to the sender, a girl came to me with half a lemon, she gave it to me and ran away immediately. I looked at the lemon, I had my eyes weeping, I could not breathe, I vomited bile and catarrh. Then I went near a friend who also had a lemon and asked: what do I have to do with this? He looked at me as if I were one of the Muppets and said: fuck, you have to eat it!!! I looked at my lemon, with clear signs of other bites, but I heard the noise of more tear-gas coming… I closed my eyes, and bit the lemon.

Going back to the commentary. The launch of tear-gas stopped and the hydrants started. By then we were maybe around fifty people remaining to guard the barricade. The hydrants didn’t have much effect, on the contrary they helped us recover from the tear-gas.

And here the incredible started. They closed the hydrants, we resumed our position on the barricade, and the police started shooting tear-gas with rifles (or whatever the hell they call them). The first ones in a high parabola, to isolate the ones at the front from the ones behind, then they lowered their aim and shoot at eye level, aiming at the head. A friend was hit on the helmet, I just had time to turn around to shout not to shoot at that height and I got hit on the left arm. I must say that it hurt but was bearable. On the head, however, it kills you.

The launch of tear-gas was very dense, they did it to disperse us, and to create a curtain of smoke between them and us. And from this curtain came the snips of the excavator that broke through the barricade. The operator of the excavator could not absolutely see if on the barricade there were protesters. He broke through the barricade blind, without knowing if we had dispersed or not.

But a group of around ten people were still there and only fate prevented us from being run over.

After the smoke dissolved, the excavator forcefully made an opening in the barricade.

At this point we were only five or six protesters. The police advanced with a testudo formation. I, with the face uncovered and without any kind of protection, raised my hands and started to retreat. I repeated shouting “we retreat slowly, retreat slowly”, not having the time to say it a third time: a policeman advanced rapidly and hit me twice with a baton. I dodged the first blow, but the second one hit me full on the face, on the nose. I started to bleed a lot, managed not to fall and turned around. I escaped, running towards the barricades, which were at that point an obstacle to our retreat.

We climbed over and ran towards the infirmary, where Ugo medicated me as best as he could. I left the place to the other wounded and went towards the toilets of the farm. We just had the time to enter and another charge arrived, there was tear-gas everywhere, they were throwing them even inside the toilets. We escaped towards the infirmary, hoping that they would spare it. No way. Tear-gas arrived even in the infirmary, we ran out quickly just before the first charge.

By then it was a useless massacre, they had dispersed us, had control of the area, but continued to charge and shoot tear-gas inside the caravan, in the kitchens, on the tents.

We escaped where they could not reach us, on the mountain tracks towards Ramat, where we arrived at least one and an half hours later, and where cars waited for us to take us towards the lower valley, and an ambulance (only one!) that medicated the first wounded.

Ivo Ghignoli – Turin

Further information: Website of NO-TAV Turin

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