From Turin: SAN SALVARIO, ENOUGH NOW! - May 2003
May has arrived and in San Salvario hunting season has started. The assault troops of the police are at every corner, their armed squads scour the neighborhoods in search of prey. Some good citizens of the area run before them wagging their tails, voluntary hunting dogs who show the hunter where to strike. Behind, as many people who watch and stay silent, who help the hunt by pretending not to notice – as if it were a normal thing, like the changing of the seasons or the flowing of the clouds carried by the wind. But this month in San Salvario, the manhunt has opened.
Nothing new, really, under the skies of Turin. Controls, patrols, raids and beatings are the order of the day in every city for some years now. But now the assault troops give their best in San Salvario: we see them in action every day, and it is really this that we are forced to see on the streets of our neighborhoods prevents us from keeping quiet.
All the bad things that are said in San Salvario about the operations of the police and the military police are true, and no one can ignore it. It is true that the cops, in the shadow of the bushes of Valentino, they rob and blackmail the immigrants that they get their hands on. It is true that the methods in the barracks and the police stations have always been quick. It is true that the prostitutes that are arrested must often submit to the desires of the cops.
But what is happening these days is that the arrogance and violence of the cops no longer needs to conceal itself in the backroom of the police station or shield itself in the desolation of the public parks: now in the light of day and before passersby, the police can chase, attack and beat up anyone who is suspected of not having the right documents for breathing the air of our cities.
It is not the laments of a few merchants that call the police so that they can sell more perfume that causes us anguish and enrages us; it is not the congratulatory slaps on the back that the mayor distributes to the little soldiers of the assault troops, exhausted from their excessive labor; it is not the lies and the alarmist rhetoric of the newspapers; it is not even the violence of the cops that enrages us. All this is their job, more or less as it has always been.
What makes our pulse throb is the indifference of those who watch. The ones who frighten us are all those good people who, after having hung the peace flags from their balconies, don’t notice or pretend not to notice that the war is rely right outside their house. How is it possible not to have anything more to say when police armed to the teeth chase after women whose offense is that of finding themselves on the street in order to survive? How is it possible for the heart not to jump when the hopes and projects of so many men and women who come to Turin are shattered by the gatekeepers of the flying squads? How does one manage to stay still and calm when, battered and shackled, ththey are locked up in the lager at Corso Brunelleschi?
Anyone who accepts all this today without batting an eyelash will soon be ready to accept anything. If today the hunt for the undocumented foreigner is a normal thing, tomorrow it will become normal for the assault troops to crash through the doors of our homes in the night in defense of an increasingly totalitarian and repressive power. Then certainly San Salvario will be clean and shiny, but all to the profit of the speculators of the municipality and of the real estate agencies, and there will no longer be a place for anyone who is not a rich person, a boss, a journalist, a police – or at least a little, stingy perfume merchant.
Some residents of San Salvario
CRIMINALS, JAIL GUARDS, OR…?
Solidarity, above all else, is a feeling that is born in view of that which surrounds us in all its horror, that recognizes no moral prejudices and that accepts no blackmail. It does not manifest in attending with one’s emotional participation in the misfortune of others; it is not compassion. It is not in the least the charitable act through which one nurtures the one who suffers for a day with the aim of nurturing one’s own conscience forever; it is not charity work. Solidarity is acting from the heart, but it does not makes the tears flow or the wallet throb. It is not a stifled sob or a shopkeeper’s calculation, but the shout of rage and the surge of generosity. The one who is in solidarity does not know how to close the eyes, does not lower herself in order not to see, does not turn the other way, but looks, is enraged and intervenes, because everything relates to him. And there is only one way to intervene in favor of those who find themselves in difficulty, without the hypocrisy of charity, without propagandistic opportunism, without ulterior motives: acting against those who place others in difficulty. A noble gesture when it attacks individual outrages, solidarity becomes a crime as soon as it attacks the institutional outrage, in other words when it calls the decisions of the authorities into power. Anyone who loudly criticizes, who protests without accepting the mediations, who openly opposes the will of the state and the violence with which it is imposed, is not considered and individual in solidarity, but a criminal to repress. Authority, which spread the leprosy of obedience everywhere, cannot tolerate the individual with her tempestuous feelings, but only the citizen to which it offers a single alternative: the applause of consent or the silence of indifference. This is why it does not acknowledge and cannot permit anyone to rebel in the face of its cops that grab, beat, arrest, kill and torture….Anyone who does so finds himself under suspicion and investigation and his reaction is prosecutes and penalized as a crime.
In recent times, minor trials are multiplying throughout Italy against free individuals who have chosen not to be faithful citizens. Intervening in order to criticize the functioning of the forces of order, participating in initiatives of solidarity with prisoners, protesting against the round-up of persons guilty only of not having the correct document in their pocket … this is also a way to find oneself in court incriminated with the most varied charges that increase as the abuses and tyranny of the men in uniform spread.
In order to give an idea of the level of delirium reached by in the systematic criminalization of every behavior that is not of resigned acceptance of that social order, it is enough to consider that after the fiery days of the Genoese July of two years ago not preventing others from breaking windows (and with them the law) has in fact become a crime called “psychic participation”. The magistrates, well protected by police logic, have reached the conclusion that even those who refuse to act as cops can only be “criminals”. A ridiculous and yet dangerous caper for those who require more and more people to condemn in order to feed their career.
But it is all useless. Whether it is expressed through helping those who are in difficulty before the authorities, whether it is manifested against those imprison and kill in the name of the state, whether it stands side by side with anyone who dares to give body to her rebellion in order to remove an arid existence made up of material and emotional misery, solidarity cannot be eliminated. At least as long as tears have not taken the place of blood, at least as long as the wallet has not taken the place of heart. And you? What flows in our veins, what beats in your breast?
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