Italy: Those Who Do Not Die Find Themselves – Thoughts on Repressive Operation ‘Ritrovo’

Around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the Ros of Bologna, Florence and Fidenza together with 200 Carabinieri burst into the lives of 12 anarchists. The GIP [Judge for the Preliminary Investigations]  Panza, at the request of the prosecuting magistrate Dambruoso, has for seven the arrest and for five the obligation to stay with night return (for four of these also the daily signature). A script which we know well and which, thanks to the declarations of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which reveal the “preventive” nature of the arrests, makes the message launched even more explicit to anyone: let it be clear to those who hope that the crisis will open the possibility of giving a shake to the present social relations that the State does not change. The accusations are association with the purpose of terrorism and subversion of the democratic order, with the aim of inciting criminals to commit crimes, the carrying out of some damage and a fire.

270bis: association for the purpose of terrorism

Although the accusation was deemed inappropriate by the  delle libertà Tribunal during the review, we would venture a few words on the matter, given that the precautionary measures have been taken on it, and its reappearance by the GIP Panza.

Also in this operation, called “Ritrova“, at the centre of the accusations are the struggles. Two in particular: the one against the CPRs [migrant deportation prisons] and the one against the prisons – whether or not this was intended for comrades. The State speaks clearly: terrorists are those who express solidarity, those who fight, those who do not keep their mouths shut, those who show open approval towards direct action and radical forms of opposition – also illegal – to the strategies of repression and exploitation. Not only that, a recurrence which is also found in other recent repressive operations is the use of the crime of incitement to commit crime as the glue of the associative hypothesis: the word, in these times, is frightening and the State is now moving with regime modality. It has been happening for some time and we expect it to happen again.

According to the authorities, the “cell” of Bologna had the capacity to activate small but replicable actions on a national scale by groups similar to it. Groups with which the aforementioned “cell” was in contact: a ramification capable of “forcing the public powers to perform or refrain from performing any act”.

Our position on this matter is simple: if bringing solidarity to those who revolt and taking sides against injustices is terrorism, then we are all terrorists. We are happy to accept the accusation if in this terrorist world it is those who do not shut their mouths and choose to attack. To attack those same institutions which, on fear, form the government of the people. We could talk about wars, bombs in the squares, dead at sea and truncheons, but what is the point? Have the last three months not been enough to make us understand how much fear the State needs to govern us? The fear of controls, the fear of the arbitrariness of the forces of law and order, of the “abuse of power”, the fear of getting sick and making people sick, forced to go to work forcibly and not being able to get proper treatment in the face of the dismantling of health care. A fear that becomes increasingly terrifying when we think of the arrests of strikers and the fourteen deaths in prisons.

The crisis management of Covid-19 has clearly revealed which are the most expendable lives for power in a regime of techno-digital production such as elderly and disabled people in retirement homes or homes for the disabled; rather than prisoners, criminalised bodies in prisons and CPRs.

An increasing part of the population is suffering an increasing level of violence and reacting is soon called terrorism.

Incitement to commit a crime

Today, the accusation of incitement to commit a crime is a clear contradiction, injustice and the arbitrariness on which power is based. In order for incitement to occur – affirms the Public Prosecutor Dambruoso – an adequate and receptive context is necessary; in order for ideas not to be pursued, it is necessary, as in this case, that the economic-social environment is adequate to receive the incitement to commit the crime. The sense is: what yesterday was not incitement today becomes incitement because times have changed. What else is needed to understand that the penal code is nothing more than an instrument for maintaining class inequality, aimed solely at protecting the ruling class, which, depending on the air it breathes, risks having its hat blown off today and its head blown off tomorrow?

It is in this perspective that the “strategic preventive value” takes on all its meaning. At a moment like this, an operation that takes away twelve thinking heads, twelve free hearts, is very convenient, because – they said it themselves – the crisis is pressing and the coming times will be dark for those who sit on the throne. The six remaining precautionary measures (residence obligations with return at night) in fact concern precisely the crime of incitement.

Allow us, however, a brief parenthesis on this “precautionary measure”. The first request for precautionary measures, initially rejected by the GIP, dates back to July 2019, the second and accepted speaks instead of 6 March 2020, on the eve of the riots in prisons. The operation had been ready to deploy for quite some time and the “strategic preventive value” is added, together with some recent reports about the garrisons under the Dozza prison, to an already dense bundle.

Agitators, instigators, propagandists, this is something that anarchists have always been. One thing, however, we feel we must clarify: anarchists do not tell anyone to do anything on their behalf. They defend what they believe to be right, they act themselves, alone or with other people, but never put themselves above others, ready to shape their behaviour and action. This is a strategy used in politics and in politics we do not believe, we believe in direct action, in its thousand forms, which are the exact opposite of politics.

It is not a question of sending the accusations back to the sender, nor even less of understanding whether anarchism and instigation go hand in hand (a diatribe that we gladly leave to the lawyers), but rather of asking ourselves what the root causes of the revolt are. The revolt, according to some, lies in the instigating words of the instigator, in the insinuations of the madman, who would have the capacity to destroy this best of all possible worlds. According to them, if outside the walls of prisons and CPRs there had been no presence of solidarity, the revolts inside would not have occurred. As we well know, revolts in certain places abound, even without there being a supportive presence outside to act as a sounding board. This is because the awareness of the misery in which one lives, the identification of the enemy and the need to act are certainly not determined by instigatory speeches, but rather by the harassment that is suffered and the injustices that are no longer bearable.

 

It has been customary in the CPRs for years, it was so in prisons in March 2020 and it is the same these days in the United States, when yet another black person has been murdered by white policemen, part of the population has risen up. The anger in the United States says it loud and clear: there is no need for the anarchists to instigate, the disgust of this world is enough in itself.

Heretics, socialists, autonomists, anarchists, antifa… are categories with which governments have always tried to mystify the phenomenon of radical opposition, so as not to affirm its deep roots, it has never been thrifty. The truth, however, is that the seed of revolt lies in a terrain of exploitation, control, repression, racism, injustice and, increasingly, gratuitous prevarication. No wonder if one day it would decide to sprout here too, even in the face of the most complete and deafening silence of opposition voices. Rest assured, it will happen.

It was seen during the months of quarantine. While outside the government of the manic fear of the population, inside the prisons this same fear has become unmanageable for those who have always built their power on it. As early as February 26, Roberto Ragazzi, head of the Department of Penitentiary Medicine at Ausl in Bologna, ordered his workers not to wear masks in the prison in order not to alarm the prison population.

On March 9, cornered and exasperated, the prisoners decided that the fear imposed on them had become unbearable, the situation escaped the hands of the prison institutions and a revolt broke out in Dozza, in the wake of the others that were ignited in the prisons along the peninsula.

Who can, in the face of this, still think that the revolt is in fact the product of conspiracy or some isolated protester? Are the anarchists the instigators or is the invincibility of a life based on fear and terror the first source of incitement?

Actions and sabotage

Everything starts from here, or so they say, also because environmental and telephone interceptions were already active for some time, at least since 2016, from the bomb placed at the barracks of Corticella. Everything, however, would start from a night in December 2018, when an antenna on the hills of Bologna was set on fire. The Santa Liberata radio links were in use to local radio and television stations, as well as to law enforcement agencies (inter-force network) and unspecified companies involved in audio-video surveillance. That evening some television networks were darkened and the Guardia di Finanza [Financial Crimes Police] suffered a momentary interruption of its radio communications. “Turn off the antennas, awaken consciences, in solidarity with the anarchists in prison and under surveillance” is the inscription left nearby. This was one of the many actions that in Italy and Europe occur against the physical infrastructure of the immaterial world.

During the period February-April 2019, at the same time as demonstrations in the streets, but not only, there was vandalism and damage to the branches of the BPER and BPM banks, both involved in the ownership of the CPR structure in Modena in anticipation of opening, as well as against cameras, nationalist monuments and a Carabinieri barracks. What can we say, when those responsible for injustice and oppression touch some of the bitterness they make us swallow every day, we can’t help but rejoice. Certain actions, however small, have their own meaning for us. Our criterion of justice is not given by a code that we have never subscribed to, but by the non randomness of these actions and the meaning of the objective they choose.

Let them even try to shut us up with accusations, hitting those who exploit and repress is right and that is a fact.

Solidarity

Facing repression means trying to turn shit into flowers.

The scale of the solidarity received was a nice surprise. Not only “militants and activists”, but also many people who nobody would have imagined could take the defense of a “gang of anarchists”. In this, friendships, acquaintances, meetings and people who mark everyday life, in short, everyday life, have certainly had a considerable weight. With this we do not want to affirm that the “social rootedness” is the recipe against repression, also because a precise definition of it is rather difficult, nor should the paths of anarchists foresee it of necessity. However, in this specific situation this has been a fact that we feel we must report.

This solidarity received is not accidental, just as it is not accidental that after months of home imprisonment, fear and police harassment, some people thought that this further repressive turning point, aimed at those who had clearly spoken out against the security situation in recent times, was really too much. The old social relationships have changed for the worse for the exploited and must be suddenly normalized; perhaps there are those who did not feel like lowering their heads, even if only in the face of the statements regarding the “strategic preventive value”, as if their friends and acquaintances were a virus to be eradicated, uncomfortable people to get rid of regardless.

To be honest, however, it should be noted a fact, of which we are aware and on which it is necessary to reflect for what the future will be: the weakness of the accusatory hypothesis has certainly been an important factor in mobilizing solidarity, especially by people far from the struggles. It has certainly helped to give rise to the idea of a regime injustice that was taking place. The current situation has been a game, we recognise that. We also know, however, that solidarity must be revolutionary, always on the side of those who fight against the state and masters and not conditioned by the accusations made. We must have the honesty to read the contexts, but also the consistency to remain faithful to our convictions even in the hardest moments, trying to show strong and decisive solidarity even when repression strikes hardest. Precisely for this reason we have never dared to speak of “set-ups”, nor have we ever chosen – as rightly it should be – an innocent discourse, even in the face of the widening of solidarity, trying to continue to bring radical speeches to as many ears as possible. “Turn off the antennas, awaken consciences”, this is how the May 30 parade opened, a declaration of how direct action, sabotage and the practices of attack on structures and servants of this system are right.

The first response in the face of all this was to return to the streets, as before, more than before, despite fear and prohibitions, to express what for us is solidarity: practices.

The repression, when it kidnaps comrades and companions to the struggles, has the purpose of limiting us materially by taking away our strength and frightening us. We must be aware that our paths foresee the possibility that the State will sooner or later knock on our doors, we must prepare ourselves for the possibility that repression will come and at that moment maintain lucidity, so as not to be sunk and – it will be trivial, but – respond by relaunching the struggles, so as not to declare surrender. Just when it is solidarity that is attacked – as in this case – and just when its networks are questioned, it is necessary to make repression a condition and an opportunity for strengthening and relaunching. In the common difficulty it can become an opportunity and a condition for getting to know each other, understanding each other and organizing oneself better, strengthening each other and making solidarity a weapon.

The period we are living through shows that the State has taken a clear and significant path, we have well understood that the coming months and years will be delicate and tense.

More aware and stronger than before, we will find ourselves in the streets.

“And say, say! What would you be

without god, without king, without masters,

without restraints, without tears?

– All hell is breaking loose!”

– “Matricolati!”, Cronaca sovversiva, May 26, 1917…

Anarchists from Bologna 

*Just before the final draft of the text we received news of yet another repressive operation that struck 7 among comrades and companions, 5 in prison and 2 at home, put in place by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome. The news is still a bit fragmentary, but we recognize several similarities with the one in Bologna. Here, too, the ROS are leading the charge, the accusations are 270bis (for people in prison) more numerous specific facts, including an attack with the purpose of terrorism, fire and incitement to commit crime, several episodes would concern actions in solidarity with prisoners. We have said it, the State is showing its muscles at a moment in history that promises to be full of possible tensions. Solidarity is fundamental and we reiterate it without ifs and buts towards the comrades affected in Rome.

(via Round Robin, translated into English by Anarchists Worldwide)

 

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