Translated by act for freedom now!
Note: Anarchist comrade Stecco was arrested on 19th February 2019 in repressive operation ‘Renata’, where seven anarchists were arrested (one of them was immediately put under house arrest) and accused according to articles 270bis (four of them) and 280 (all) of the penal code, plus related offences referring to direct actions that took place in the Trentino region over the past two years. In March judges of the court of review decided that the charges that had been pressed initially were non-existent, dropping the aggravating circumstance of ‘terrorism’. The imprisoned comrades are being held in AS2 units in the prisons of Ferrara, Tolmezzo and L’Aquila.[Update: all the anarchist comrades involved in operation ‘Renata’ are now under house arrest with all the restrictions. Only Stecco remains in prison due to previous sentences]
Words from Stecco from the prison of Tolmezzo
The time has come for me to say something about what happened in February.
Less than two months have passed since our arrest with operation ‘Renata’, and I can say that I’m calm and strong, as sure as ever that the struggle continues in spite of the blows inflicted by the State.
My arrest in Turin, in the vicinity of Corso Giulio, took place at around 5pm quite peacefully. As I was leaving the comrade I had been with, I noticed a typical plain clothes policeman in front of me at a tram stop; a few seconds later I found myself surrounded. I can say that all this happened in great tranquillity, and with annoying ‘kindness’ I’d say, unlike the way my comrades in Trentino were treated.
Before being moved to Trento I thought that my arrest was due to pending proceedings whose conclusion I’d been expecting for a while. I did perceive something strange: too many people wearing badges in that corridor of the Turin police station. Only at the first visit of the lawyer did I find out that measures alternative to prison had been confirmed on the very day of my arrest. A mere coincidence? Anyway, at around 8pm they gave me a warrant to search me and the house where I live. Obviously I noted ‘our’ fatal 270bis, 280bis and a string of other offences. At that moment the dates and places in the list were incomprehensible, but my reaction was. While I was reading, I was not surprised at what was happening; no agitation or palpitations, but the simple certitude of my ideas and convictions, the certitude of having always struggled for ideals of justice, freedom, equality among all men and women.
So, in this strange tranquillity I faced the journey at 70 km an hour to Trento along with four ROS officers. As soon as we got to the carabinieri barracks in Trento, at around 2am, I became aware of the vastness of the operation. The barracks was a hive of men and women both in uniform and not, huge folders, papers and crap papers.
It is the third time in 8 years that the State has accused me of ‘terrorism’ along with many of my comrades, and I know the procedure a little, even if this time I’m one of the ones who ends up in jail. As they got us out of the barracks, everything had been well arranged: sirens and flashes set up for photos for miserable journalists stationed along the road. I understood that the anarchist-hunt had been studied in the most disgusting details so as to make an impression on those above, whose speeches against freedom – today sadly backed by many of the exploited – are being strengthened and promoted in the spotlight.
Another conviction that kept me and keeps me tranquil is that whatever happened and will happen to me, not only my comrades are there for me, they have the strength to react to this latest attack. Breathing the atmosphere in Turin gave me strength, even if only for a short time. The same strength that has spread in many other places from the comrades and people in solidarity. The feeling of a tenacious, determined atmosphere can only be good for all, in spite of the difficulties of recent times. The cascade of telegrams and letters we received confirmed my sensations.
For many years I’ve thought about what my comrade Roberto said: ‘I’ve always known it, to struggle for freedom also means to risk losing it’. Simple, clear and above all true words. Now that I’m in prison, I see and hear things that had escaped my attention (my first two short experiences in prison were only a foretaste of what I’m experiencing now). Now I can see much of what I had been thinking during these years of struggle actually happening. To be here in Tolmezzo means to see how the State and its repressive apparatus are constantly working and updating the ways of isolating those who persist in struggling against it. And the conditions inflicted on our comrades in L’Aquila, in that Hybrid between AS2 and 41bis are even harsher.
They want to relieve this prison [L’Aquila] from the notoriety of being a place of torturers and thugs gained at the time of ex-governor Silvia Dalla Barca, even if those brutes are still there. Only the prisoners are now for the most part in AS and are from southern Italy, no longer isolated foreigners who had anything inflicted on them without anybody knowing. The tactic is now a different one. The prison is all split up into various categories: mafia here, mafia there, 41bis, social prisoners, Islamists, anarchists, etc. A tactic that seems to work, if you think that among the few ‘social prisoners’ there are some came to blows for racist insults and various prejudices, to great advantage of the Direction. I think that understanding the evolution of the prisons, their history, the changes in the law, the way investigations are being carried out, not only against us anarchists, is very useful to understand what to say and do today inside and outside.
Today is 25th April [the official day of Italy’s liberation from nazi-fascism was 25th April 1945]. Some prisoners asked me if I was celebrating and it was interesting that in a few minutes everybody agreed that there has been no liberation. The history of the partisan movement is very complex. I can show respect for that struggle, but I take sides too. If I think of that struggle, I think of comrades such as Pedrini, Tommasini, Mariga, Mariani and many others, who had struggled against fascism and the State well before September 8 [8th September 1943: Italy signed an unconditional armistice with the Allies following the downfall of Benito Mussolini in July] and well after April 25. Most importantly, they didn’t struggle for political and power reasons, they didn’t betray the goals that many youths, men and women had set with their sacrifice. It’s also thanks to those comrades, to their experiences, to their stories, that I now have the knowledge to face prison with strength and dignity. For me there exists a subterranean thread that unites me to those comrades, not because I have the same courage – I have never felt on my skin many of the things they experienced – but because I’m humbly trying to carry out the same struggle and ideas. I find it hypocritical that every year in newspapers such as Corriere della Sera, a great photographer like Robert Doisneau is remembered, as he falsified documents for the French Resistance movement during the war, and at the same time those who escape from the concentration camps financed by the West today are condemned and criminalized, locked up in these camps because they don’t have documents and only by escaping and false documents can they try to get away from the authorities and remain free. This day [April 25] mirrors the hypocrisy of the society we live in, where everything can be the opposite of everything else.
These are sad times. News of indiscriminate massacres follow one another in agonizing sequence. Events in Libya, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Venezuela and all those kept hidden are on the same side of the coin of other massacres perpetrated by various armies all over the world. All of these events speak of indiscriminate, summary, barbarous deaths, inflicted not for aims of emancipation, but to brutalize life for subjugation and power.
In this context of wars and social changes of various kinds, yet again the anarchist movement in its history is being accused of ‘terrorism’. This accusation is a grave offence, and is aimed at denigrating our ideas and methods. The State, which uses the dirtiest and most atrocious methods, out of fear or necessity sets out to strike the more conscious of the exploited who struggle. Anarchists have defended themselves from these attacks in many ways by reaffirming the rightness of their ideas and practices over time.
Now I too want to have a say. Isolation and this cell can’t keep me silent. I’ll never lose the will to seek clarity where the worst confusion reigns. To do so, I’ll mention the deeds and words of a few anarchists.
For many years in Russia anarchists, and not only, have been killed, tortured, their propaganda silenced, family members arrested. In 2001 young anarcho-syndicalist Nikita Kalin was killed by a gunshot in the head because of his activity in the factory where he worked. Many others have been struck by ferocious repression carried out by the State and its fascist servants, who have not ceased to increase in numbers in recent years. On 31st October 2018, at 8:52 in Arkhangelsk, a young anarchist, Mikhail Zhlobitsky, died ripped apart by his bomb in the premises of the regional Direction of FSB (Russian secret services). Three officers were injured and the building was damaged. This dramatic event makes us understand that on the one hand we lost a courageous comrade and on the other the blame for what happened is the State’s. If ideas and freedom are put aside, they will react with the most courageous and determined men and women. It is social conditions that cause such events to occur. And this fact is not ‘terrorism’. Now we can mourn the lost comrade, but even more understand that the struggle must continue till deeds such as these are no longer necessary.
On 20th September 1953 an article by Mario Barbari appeared in the anarchist paper Umanità nova, where the comrade discussed a book by Giuseppe Mariani concerning the Diana episode in 1921 [on 23rd March 1921 a group of Milanese anarchists placed a bomb outside the city’s Diana Theatre, with the intention of striking police chief Gasti, who was believed to be in an apartment above the theatre. The explosion caused 21 dead and many more injured but the intended target was unharmed]: ‘And isn’t the tyrant a ravenous lion – always craving conquest– when in his despotic brutality he doesn’t spare any means against those who try to free themselves from tyranny in the fear that others become aware of the reality that is crushing them? The tyrant is therefore the genuine expression of violence, and those who fight him, are fighting against violence’.
We anarchists have to set a measure that always distinguishes us from those who use violence for their evil purposes. Malatesta called it ‘moral gymnastics’, thanks to which the meaning of revolutionary violence is different from that of the violence used by the State through its instruments and servants. One of our tasks is to bring clarity to this society based on violence, to struggle so that brutality is at last replaced by fraternity and solidarity for all humankind. Perhaps today staying human is the most difficult battle; getting away from the hatred that surrounds us is even more difficult. If we succeed our goals will be able to emerge with strength and lucidity.
With their accusations they want to throw us in a basket whose contents are more than rotten; instead we must remain uncorrupted in the face of barbarity.
Barbani continued: ‘Therefore it’s no longer a question of violence or non-violence; of loving or hating; of understanding or pitying; but a question of struggling strenuously with all our energy of conscious beings in order to extirpate tyranny and eliminate the yoke of material and spiritual slavery; and for this we incite each one to understand themselves in order to understand others at the same time. If tomorrow a new dawn finds us present in the reality of a revolt of the oppressed and human outcasts, we won’t disdain to be present in the uproar of barricades and even then we will be sure we are not committing violence, but are fighting violence!’
The book Memorie di un anarchico [memories of an anarchist] by Giuseppe Mariani has made me think deeply many times, helping me to gain clarity about practices and methods. I end this discourse with the words of Gigi Damiani, from the introduction to Mariani’s book: ‘… But history teaches us that there are times when violence becomes a social necessity. Only it is necessary, as far as possible, that it does not strike blindly or make the humble pay for the guilt of the great’.
I think that at the present moment, sadly also thanks to the State’s blows against our movement, we have the chance to talk about our ideas, practices and dreams again with even more strength. Spaces, however small, are opening up and we have to criticize reformist movements and those in bad faith. In recent months many people have been questioning various issues concerning the direction that society is taking, especially with demonstrations of opinion that unfortunately have a defensive, reformist character that we cannot share. It’s up to us, to those who agree, to create cracks and stimulate reality so that this tenuous revival of awareness goes to the roots of social problems and it doesn’t let itself be deceived by words such as democracy-rights-progress-civilization. Let clarity and our practices become fundamental in succeeding in creating a balance of strength necessary to make the State and the bosses step back from their intents. Here too healthy gymnastics is necessary.
And if prosecutors beneath suspicion such as Raimondi and the police chiefs in Turin and Trento are surprised at the solidarity expressed to us anarchists, inviting so-called civil society to stay away from us, it means that the path is right, and they can only make me happy. Our struggle, propaganda, practices frighten those who should be frightened somehow, even if in small part.
I thank with all my heart all the comrades who in recent months have been taking on many burdens in order to carry on the struggle and solidarity with all of us in prison. I thank all those who carry on the debate and the growth of our ideas in meetings, magazines, analyses.
My sincere closeness goes to the comrades under investigation and imprisoned following the ‘Scripta Manent’, ‘Panico’, ‘Scintilla’ trials and all the comrades imprisoned in jails everywhere.
My deepest worry goes to anarchist comrade Anahi Salcedo, locked up in Argentina in precarious physical conditions and without adequate medical care.
Fraternal greetings to the comrades on the run who are walking through the streets of the world.
For the Social Revolution, for Anarchy
Prison of Tolmezzo, 25th April 2019
Luca Dolce known as Stecco