Translated by act for freedom now
Turin, 22nd January 2014, Vallette prison
I’m writing to all the comrades in the struggle, the NO TAV people from cities and the valley, to those hothead youths who invaded the A32 highway in February 2012 and the less young ones who, sticks in their hands, opened their way beyond the fences of the yard back in 2005. I’m writing to cover the distance which now takes us apart, so that this can turn into a chance to better know each other and come out with new proposals.
When I still lived in Pesaro, before moving to Turin, I used to hear my classmates’ parents talking about high speed and NO TAV. The pricks said it was just a question of ‘a few mountain men’, who wouldn’t go far. As I got to Turin aged 18, I realized this was not the case: in 2010 I came close to the Susa Valley as I was fascinated by the tales coming from the gatherings on the mountains, of sleepless nights waiting for the drills. Obviously these ‘mountain men’ either had subhuman physical strength or were much more than 4, and were well organized too!
At the time I didn’t even know what sounding the territory was for exactly, but I was enthusiastic of that turmoil and I plunged into it headlong. Now I just have some fragments of memory: the cold in the bones and the grappa at 6 in the morning to carry on until the shift change at the Interporto in Susa; police charges in the middle of the woods and snowballs against the shields. Then again the police, but this time on the SS24 highway, as they were forced to go back to the barracks via Bardonecchia owing to a block of angry people. During a demo in Turin months later, I overheard an antiriot cop talking with a colleague about that night: ‘It took over three hours to go back home’. With hindsight and thinking of the blocks after Luca’s accident, I’d say to this cop: ‘You’re lucky that it didn’t take a whole day!’
At the time there were many people, not really huge numbers but well organized, each had their direct responsibility, their action to carry out to kick off the mechanism and try to get close and disrupt the drills. Everyday life was transforming itself because each and every day was dedicated to that goal, each one was protagonist in their own way and realized that pulling off would provoke a domino effect.
That winter of struggle, which was just a taste for me, had some characteristics I was to see again on a large scale in the following seasons, up to the extraordinary mix of practices in summer 2011.
It would be very useful to revise them now, so as to face the challenges of the immediate future, but the prosecutors don’t seem to agree. As the movement has taken giant steps in the last period, also by welcoming sabotage as legitimate practice for those who rebel against the plans imposed by the state, with this investigation the latter decided to attack a whole wealth of experience, by redefining its characters and twisting its contents. They talk about ‘paramilitary organization’, ‘division of tasks’ and ‘ specialized groups’, not by chance the same words with which they refer to the way they conduct their wars, and which obviously don’t belong to us at all.
By contrast, since 2010 those who struggle have realized that in order to spot a column of tracks, a drill or a mole it is sufficient to stay in a bar, on a balcony or on the corners of the roads they walk along every day, and look in the right direction. At this point a word of mouth will do its job, without orders or commanders. It is at least since 2010 we’ve been talking to one other to understand our individual needs and abilities, those who can take a day off and those who are ready to play truant at school, those who have children big enough not to be taken care of and those who are there because they simply don’t know what else to do. To sleep rough was never a problem when required by the circumstances, but one can’t talk of super-trained ninja. These experiences have become richer in the years, and with them all the people who have taken or given something.
Those who were born in the valley have learned to struggle and those who wen>t there to struggle have learned to walk. Anyone who visited the yard in that night of May is no more special than all those who grew up while opposing the high speed train, and that’s because all draw from the same source of experience.
Not happy with this trick, in a flight of fancy meant to drop sentences like torpedoes over the head of the NO TAV resisters, the two prosecutors have drawn a concept worth a training course for cops (just the first lesson though): control of the territory. According to an obscure passage in their file, this control would be exercised by the violent fringes of the movement.
Don’t they know that anyone struggling in the valley doesn’t want to be controlled rather than want to control? So the only violent fringes with this goal are the gentlemen and ladies in uniform or wearing a blue helmet, speeding up and down the valley in their patrol vehicles. Since 2011 thousands of them have been patrolling the paths surrounding the yard. I recall the never ending tug-of-wars to liberate areas of woods from those ugly guys with balaclavas and camouflage blocking our way, at times even pointing a gun at us without any reason, as some NO TAV people can say.
August 2011 was a string of strenuous days: we had to build the gathering in Clarea but the check points on the side of the highway, at the entrance of the mule track, were asphyxiating. But someone had the brilliant idea of proposing daily meetings in Chiomonte in order to get some dozen people involved and go along all together, thus making it more difficult for the police to stop and identify us. This worked well, our materials were taken to the cabin and those who had expulsion orders felt relieved. When we were in the mood, we wined and dined, real feasts which concluded with us going on the side of the highway and destroying in the most improbable ways those monsters of concrete called ‘jersey’.
The concept of ‘control’ they attribute to us is proved wrong by the deep and widespread knowledge of the territory held by those who struggle. This knowledge, along with the necessary inventiveness and determination has always been elusive to cops and investigators.
These gentlemen are trying to establish their massive presence and indiscreet eyes in the roads of the entire valley, and move at their leisure. Months ago a boy was telling me about the level of militarization in Susa, and as he talked I remembered the tales of my Tunisian friend about the military siege of Gafsa during the protests in 2005. At the time he and many other young people sought refuge on the mountains, while others remained to resist in the city. I don’t know this story well, but I remembered him saying that some of his friends got shot by the men in camouflage. We all know how that difficult Tunisian ‘winter’ would be followed by a blooming spring of revolt, which would turn the entire Mediterranean basin upside down.
Of course, we don’t have similar hopes and we will be content with not having our mountains holed up and not seeing useless massive stations all over Susa. The instruments to carry on the struggle are there, and creativity too. In the meantime we resist with the stubbornness that this movement has always inspired us. We only hope you won’t be too fast, and that we’ll be outside when the time comes to fill the hole in Clarea with the debris of the yard… and if there’s any space left, with a bit of highway too.
Niccolò has been recently moved to another prison:
Via Casale San Michele, 50