Thousands of protesters opposing expansion of the US military base at Vicenza clashed with Italian police over the weekend as world leaders gathered for the G8 summit. Riot forces fired teargas at demonstrators, some of them wearing crash helmets and carrying makeshift shields, who retaliated with hurled bottles and fireworks at a bridge leading to the base.
Vicenza locals overwhelmingly oppose the doubling of the size of the base, home to 3,000 soldiers of the US 173 Airborne Brigade. The Italian government has approved construction of a new 6,000-square-meter expansion on the site of the old Dal Molin airport on the city’s outskirts. Despite approval by Rome, Vicenza residents have rejected the base expansion in a referendum. The plan would allow the transfer of four US battalions from Germany, raising the number of active-duty personnel at Vicenza to 5,000 from about 2,900 already stationed at the Ederle base on the other side of town. Construction at Dal Molin is scheduled to be completed by 2011.
World leaders are to meet this week in L’Aquila for the summit focusing on the world economy, climate change, trade and development. Anti-capitalist protesters plan a series of demonstrations against the summit cross Italy. (AP, Reuters, July 4)
Last year, 15 police and other officials were found guilty of brutalizing protesters at the Genoa G8 summit in 2001.
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Sweeps in Italy ahead of G8 summit
Via UK Indymedia, July 6:
At least 21 italian activists were arrested by political police “Digos” this morning. 16 were taken to prison, five have to stay under house arrest.
The police attack affected activists from Torino, Padova, Bologna and Naples, among them known members of social centres. One of the arrested was followed by the police up to L’Aquila, where the G8 summit should take place. In Naples several objects [premises?] were raided and searched.
Under the pretext of “preventive arrests” the police used the heavy protests that were organized against the “G8 university summit” in may in Torino. The measures hit members of the so called “Area Antagonista” [alternative media center].
To protest and show solidarity, students occupied the rectorate of the university in Venice, followed by an occupation at the Sapienza university in Rome.
“We will not go”, explaines [sic] Francesco, one of the activists, “until our university is not positioning itself towards the arrests”.
Meanwhile the militarization of the “red zone” started. With army jets and surveillance drones (“Predator”) the police tries to control and handle protest and resistance.
16 roads in the area of the summit are equipped with checkpoints of Carabinieri, police, army and Guardia di Finanza. The road between the airport Preturo and the police barracks Coppito, where the summit should start on wednesday, is blocked.
On friday the police arrested two men near Viterbo, that were accused of being member of an “anarcho-insurrectionalist movement”. They should have been [are accused of?] planning to sabotage trains by placing “horse shaped iron bars” at the railway cables to bring the locomotives to halt.
On saturday 700 people demonstrated in Berlin against G8. The demonstration was attacked by the police, at least four activistswere arrested. The organizers critizise in a press release, that the police “searched the escalation”.
Andrea Brigante, Matthias Monroy
News about protest and resistance in Italy:
http://g8.italy.indymedia.org (italian and english)