For Carlo Giuliani

At 1 pm on Monday 23 July 2001, the Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) performed in front of each of the three surveillance cameras that watch the entrances to the Italian Consulate, which is located on Park Avenue at 68th Street in Manhattan (New York City). Hastily scheduled and therefore poorly attended and somewhat off-balance, these short performances by Miranda and Bill were dedicated to the honor and memory of Carlo Giuliani, the 23-year-old Italian man who was shot to death a few days previously by a carabinieri (an Italian federal police officer). Though it didn't refer directly to Carlo, the play performed by the SCP -- SCP Headline News -- focuses on the issues that were of life-and-death importance to him (one presumes, given the location and circumstances of his murder): namely, corporate control, subversion of democratic institutions, police brutality, the policies and presence of George W. Bush (self-avowed President of the United States), and environmental pollution. Except for the people watching the surveillance monitors, the only one to see the SCP's performances was the single police officer standing in front of the Italian Consulate and "keeping on eye on things." (At 4:30 pm that same day, a larger rally in front of the consulate was scheduled to take place. The SCP didn't participate in part because the group is very picky about the people and groups with which it will share a stage.)

They killed the wrong Giuliani!

For those who haven't heard the story, Carlo Giuliani -- not Rudolph Giuliani, self-avowed Mayor of New York City -- was one of more than 100,000 protesters who came to Genoa, Italy, between 19-22 July 2001 to protest during the G8 summit of self-avowed world leaders. (Carlo himself was from Genoa.) In the midst of a brutal and very illegal police charge against peaceful demonstrators, a police car and the two carabinieri within it were separated from the main group and surrounded by several very angry protesters, including Carlo. Wearing a mask to disguise his identity -- not to protect his head -- Carlo was in the midst of attacking the vehicle and its occupants with a fire extinguisher when one of the carabinieri fired at Carlo twice, at point-blank range, hitting him in the head and killing him instantly. His body was then run over twice by the police vehicle: once as it backed up, and then again as it turned and moved forward to leave the scene of the crime. (Why couldn't they try to run him over, and leave their guns unfired? It's much easier to get out of the way of a car than a speeding bullet!) The entire sickening episode was captured on film and tape by the various photographers and video reporters in attendance. (See the extensive archives and discussions at IMC-Italy.)

Carlo Giuliani was clearly provoked by the police. That's what the presence and criminal conduct of 15,000 carabinieri was designed to do: provoke the protesters into fighting back, and thus discredit them in the eyes of the general public and justify even harsher repressions. Though they do not put themselves in situations in which they will be provoked, and though they never engage in violent behavior, even when they are provoked, the SCP think that the shooting of Carlo Giuliani wasn't justified and that the officer who shot Carlo should be tried on charges of attempted murder. It seems obvious that the officer didn't have to shoot to kill; he could have merely wounded Carlo or fired a warning shot above his head. But he didn't.

And so the larger issue here is the use of lethal force, or, if you will, the rules of engagement. One hesitates to use the latter term, because it is usually applied to military forces, and not civilian law enforcement agencies. But that was precisely the problem with the way media magnate and self-avowed Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and his Minister of the Interior, Claudio Scajola, organized "security" at the summit: they treated it as if it were a military problem, and not a problem for law enforcement. This act -- increasingly typical in our putatively democratic nations -- was either a very serious mistake or a willful and quite cynical attempt to intimidate the protesters and thus keep their numbers down (it was probably both). The difference between a military presence and a police presence isn't simply a matter of personnel or the size of the force involved in the operation; it's a matter of the legal limits to their behavior. (One can't do anything in the name of "self-defense"; even soldiers fighting in declared wars are constrained by the rules of the Geneva Convention.) The problem with using military forces to do "security" at any civilian event is that military rules of engagement are far looser than the rules that apply to law enforcement agencies. The military is expected to shoot to kill and without warning; the police, by contrast, are expected to arrest and detain suspected criminals, not execute them on the spot. And so Berlusconi/Scajola's "security" arrangement jeopardized the safety of each and every demonstrator who attended the protests. The death of Carlo Giuliani was "an accident" or a "regretable incident" that was waiting to happen. But it could have been avoided if political protest had been allowed and encouraged in Genoa, not feared and pushed away.

Both Scajola and Berlusconi should resign immediately, and there should be a full and internationally supervised investigation into the following charges: 1) that there were other, as-of-yet-unreported deaths at the Summit; 2) that the carabinieri assaulted peaceful protesters, made hundreds of false arrests, and used agents provocateurs -- some of them dressed to look like protesters -- to provide justification for the police "crack down"; and 3) that the carabinieri illegally entered the premises of the Global Social Forum and the Independent Media Center, assaulted and arrested a great many of the occupants, destroyed computers and other equipment, and removed files and videos that might document the murder of Carlo Guiliani .

Because Carlo is far from the first protester to be killed at a large demonstration against an international summit or conference -- protesters have recently been killed by riot police in Brazil, New Guinea, Korea, Indonesia and Bolivia -- all future meetings of world leaders and transnational organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization should be indefinitely postponed until the organizers of these events have demonstrated that they can guarantee, not only the safety of the protesters who congregate outside these meetings, but their full participation in them, as well.

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