Workers in Portland, Oregon, Support Genoa Protesters

by George Saunders

“Workers refuse to unload Italian-managed cargo ship at Port of Portland” was the headline on an August 16 Associated Press dispatch. 

The union workers were protesting police brutality against demonstrators, including the police killing of Italian activist Carlo Giuliani during the July 20–21 demonstrations in Genoa, Italy. “About 150 longshoremen and 20 iron workers left the Port of Portland and would not unload the [Italian-managed ship] Cielo Di San Frisco,” reported the AP. The vessel was supposed to unload Italian oil and wine and pick up northwest products, said a spokeswoman for the port authority.

The AP report gave a very benign account of what the police did in Genoa, saying not one word about the brutal police assault on the headquarters of the Genoa Social Forum, the unprovoked and murderous police beatings of activists in that headquarters, and the police destruction and theft of legal records there. (See the open letter by Stefano Agnoletto. The Indymedia website has much more detail about this police attempt to terrorize and intimidate protesters.)

There were about 20 U.S. activists at the port in Portland early Wednesday, according to the AP. Clearly the workers responded to their request for solidarity. “We’re planning to stay as long as it takes that ship to turn around,” said Kathleen Juergens, an activist from Oregon. The ship is managed by Italia Di Navigazione.

The AP did report that “Oregonians Sherman Sparks, 23, and Morgan Hager, 20, say they were physically and mentally abused by police in Genoa after being arrested at the summit protests. On Tuesday, Sparks and other detained Americans filed formal complaints against the Italian authorities after a judge ordered their release.”