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Susanna Thomas's Autobiography (submitted 5/9/06)
July 21st, 2001, I worked in the Indymedia Center, in Genoa, Italy, where 300,000 protested for global debt forgiveness and immigration reform.
10 p.m., I heard a commotion. Journalists called, "Tranquila, Calma" and lay face-down. We crawled to the halls and sat silently along the walls. The man next to me pulled my head into his lap and covered me with his arms. I whispered, "This is OK. This is really not a problem."
Six heavy, middle-aged men circled our floor. They wore grey vests with black velcro strips where their badges should be. A stubbled officer smashed our front window with his baton. They exposed our film and destroyed our computers. I prayed for their well-being and calm. Telephones rang but we could not answer. Tear gas came through the windows. A medic passed through and I told him I am hypoglycemic, so if I started to convulse, the officers should not feel threatened.
About 1 a.m. they left our building. I heard chanting: "No Violenzia." A woman screamed, "Oh, sh**, that looked just like a body bag!"
Finally, they were gone. Ambulances had emptied the Diaz school across the street, carrying out activists with massive head wounds, still in their sleeping bags. I walked through the school. Hair and teeth lay in the pools of blood lined up along the walls. Our feet were sticky with blood.
A dazed boy picked up a wooden crucifix that was wrenched from a wall. The crucifix had a broken arm. The boy said, "Povere Jesus."
I made the sign of the cross over each pool of blood. I started to say, "Don't touch anything until the police get here," before I realized the police themselves had done this, and would not come to investigate.