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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Eyewitness: Street violence in Genoa
Protesters flee
Protesters fled teargas on the streets of Genoa
The violence in Genoa on Friday left one protester dead and another seriously injured. Thousands of people wanted to protest peacefully, others were armed and ready to battle police.

Patrick Nicholson is in Genoa to demonstrate for debt cancellation in poor countries. This is his story from the streets.

Protester Patrick Nicholson
Patrick Nicholson saw the violence
I was in the intersection between Corso Torino and Corso Buenos Aires. There were lots of anarchists and other protesters wearing red and black, their faces covered. Lots of people were wearing gas masks.

The protesters were ripping up the pavement. They were tearing down iron fencing to use as barricades.

They were building barricades along the Corso Torino, and that's when the police made their first concerted attack at the protesters.

Banks had already been attacked at that point with lampposts and stones. After that the police attacked. A large number, I would say about 20 vans came through, and then a few hundred policemen.

Running battle

There was a running battle up along the road. Lots and lots of teargas, clouds of teargas. The police were hitting anyone really.

There were stragglers on the side of the road they were truncheoning. They were pulling out people who had gone for protection into telephone kiosks, and they were beating them.

demonstrator smashing store front
Protesters wrecked shops and set fire to property
One policeman was going around with a can of pepper spray and just spraying it into people's faces. You couldn't really see what threat these particular protesters were. Some were journalists.

They managed to clear the long Corso Torino, pushing the violent protesters back.

I circled round to the station, Brignole, and another group, Ya Basta, were there. The people at the front of what must have been a couple of thousand people were wearing lots of armament, lots of foam.

Well prepared

They had gas masks, helmets and big plastic shields they were trying to force their way into the red zone.

They met serious police resistance, an awful lot of teargas, an awful lot of policemen with shields, hitting them and attacking them.

Policeman firing tear gas
Police fired tear gas cannisters
They were forced back. It seemed to splinter into two at that point. And then they really seemed to be making progress.

They surrounded police vans. Two of these were taken over and people were getting inside them. The vans had to retreat at high speed through the crowd.

At the start with the Ya Basta crowd, there was pop music playing. You didn't really think that things would progress to the stage they have, with someone killed and someone else seriously injured.

Losing the battle

One thing I saw made me very worried. Armoured vans came through with policemen with semi-automatic weapons on top of them.

Security screen
Activists were determined to breach the red zone
It was at that point you felt the police was losing the battle. They were getting pushed back. There was lots of celebration as one police van after another was forced back behind their lines.

What has happened makes me feel terrible. Of course one has to condemn violence on both sides. It's not productive.

We came here with a serious message. We're trying to represent the voiceless, people in the third world who can't come to these meetings. They're not invited.

But decisions which are made here have a huge effect on them. It would be awful for both our supporters and for the people we represent in the third world if our voice was lost because of this violence.

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See also:

20 Jul 01 | Europe
In pictures: Mayhem in Genoa
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Bush's agenda for Genoa
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