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Demonstrator Killed in Massive G8 Protests

Aired July 20, 2001 - 13:01   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story is from Italy where the annual meeting of the Group of Eight nations is taking place under the cloud of tear gas and now death. Tens of thousands of demonstrators were generally peaceful in protesting the meeting of leaders in the world's biggest industrialized democracies, but one hour ago, the protest turned violent.

CNN Rome bureau chief Alessio Vinci joins us again, live from the Italian port city of Genoa, site of the summit.

Alessio, fill us in on what's the latest and how this happened today.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: Natalie, first of all, demonstrations are still going on have been going on and off since around 11:00 this morning, about eight hours ago. The demonstrations have been going on for quite some time.

We can confirm, as you said, about an hour ago, during clashes with the police, one young demonstrator was killed. We don't know if this was a result of a shooting incident or whether this was the result of just a simple fact that those clashes have been extremely violent.

I just want to stress the fact that we have been going through a couple of clashes here throughout this day. It's really incredible how those demonstrators appear to be specifically ready and prepared to wage their own battle against the police forces. I want to stress also the fact that those demonstrators clashing with the police do not belong the larger group of some 80,000 or 100,000 demonstrators who have converged here in Genoa, to protest against the G8 Summit. This appears to be a separate group of sort of violent anarchists or sort of to extreme factions, who have come here well prepared -- with padded shields, Molotov cocktails, stones, rocks and sticks -- really seeking confrontation with the police.

The result of these clashes, about an hour ago, one demonstrator was killed.

Back to you.

ALLEN: Alessio, does it appear police have a handle on this one group of violent demonstrators? VINCI: It doesn't appear that way, Natalie, since this group has been clashing with the police for several hours, first of all, down here, about 300 yards behind my back, and the demonstrators moved away to the right-hand side here.

The demonstrators, we understand, are still clashing with the police. We're hearing helicopters hovering over that area. We're hearing sirens. We see reinforcement going towards that location, and we see ambulances coming out.

Certainly, the demonstrations are still very much going on, despite the fact there's one dead body on the ground.

Those demonstrators were here specifically not to protest against the G8. It doesn't appear that way. We've been following them for a few hours now. We have not seen one single anti-G8 or anti- globalization banner. These seem to be people specifically here to seek confrontation with those policemen, and they are getting what they really want, because those demonstrations are continuing.

Back to you.

ALLEN: Some news I have, Alessio, is 46 protesters and 31 police officers have been hurt, 39 people arrested, so far, in clashes. Give us an idea of how police in Italy, there in Genoa, had prepared for something like this happening, how well prepared did the city appear?

VINCI: Well, ever since the incident during the last EU Summit, in Gothenburg, the police have spent a lot of time trying to prepare for this summit. First of all, they erected a tent. It's 17 kilometers, about a 10-mile fence, surrounding the entire perimeter where the summit is taking place. They've erected this iron face, which is about five meters tall. Ahead of this fence, they have put some containers to prevent some demonstrators even to come close to those fences.

Of course, besides this, the police had also prepared by sending reinforcements. There's are 5,000 military policemen here and another 5,000 regular policemen. This is in addition to the police force who are already here. The army is also here, 2,700 army between the marines and the special forces, securing strategic locations.

So certainly, the police were ready for violent demonstrations. Perhaps what they where not ready for was for this specific small group. They were expecting some clashes with the demonstrators, as we've seen in the past, in Seattle, Gothenburg, and Prague, but they were not properly prepared for this belligerence, extremely violent small group of demonstrators, who appear to be really right-wing factions, people who came here without any idea about any idea of what is going on here in Genoa, why the world leaders are meeting, or anything that has to do with the globalization. They're really here to seek confrontation with the police. They've done this throughout the day. They continue to do this despite the fact that one of them has been killed.

Back to you, Natalie. ALLEN: We thank you, Alessio Vinci, who's there in the thick of things in Genoa, Italy. We will keep in contact with you since you're reporting that these clashes continue.

For more on how this could be affecting the summit that President Bush is attending, let's go to Stephen.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: Natalie, you heard Alessio Vinci report that some of those protesters may know nothing what the G8 is meeting to discuss. It's discussing, basically, capitalism, the global economic downturn, flash points that may be dangerous, also HIV and AIDS.

We're going to turn to Kelly Wallace, for a sense of what's happening at the meeting itself.

But Kelly, the first question is about those people outside, if you're prepared to talk about that, because we've got word now of 120,000 protesters, demonstrators, many of whom, as we've heard, are violent. Police seized an ultralight aircraft that somebody was going to fly into the security zone in and crash there. So our question for you is is the president safe while he's there?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House and Secret Service are definitely taking every security precaution. In fact, reporters covering President Bush here in Genoa were given releases and urged to be extra vigilant when it comes to the security situation. They are, obviously, taking every precaution.

They were prepared for a serious situation here, as you mentioned, Secret Service expecting as many as 100,000 protesters here. Not really clear of the numbers yet. So they definitely did expect some clashes.

Again, it's important to note, though, that many of these protesters are coming here and engaging in peaceful protest. There are those pockets, though, of people who are using violence.

And a big question, Stephen, now, for these leaders, is, basically, can these summits go forward, because the Italian prime minister was saying, even before this summit got under way, that it's just not clear if these summit can go on. This Whole city has basically been shut down for these meetings, out of concern of these protesters.

We have seen violence in Seattle, at the World Trade talks, and ever since then, back in 1999, every gathering of world leaders discussing trade and the economy has involved protesters and has involved violence. So it's a big concern for these leaders, about how they can go ahead and discuss issues, what format that can take, and whether or not this situation will have some definite implications for that in the future -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: In the meantime, though, Kelly, we are getting word they are progressing on some of these discussions, including the creation of this fund to help combat HIV and AIDS, a billion dollars pledged by the nations that are there. This is substantial work.

WALLACE: Absolutely. And it's been mentioned a big source of concern for these leaders -- including President Bush, who even spoke out, before coming here to Genoa, and he said that those who are protesting against free trade, who say that free trade will benefit the wealthiest nations at the expense of the poorest, the president believing they're just getting it wrong, that these protesters are, basically, hurting, not helping, developing countries -- leaders saying they are talking about issues that will help the developing world, such as you mentioned: $1 billion dollars to combat HIV and AIDS, talking about forgiving debt relief, talking about how trade can expand the global prosperity and help the poorest nations

Obviously, there are concerns that many of these protesters have legitimate concerns about the impact trade could have on workers' rights and the environment. Leaders, though, are concerned, saying that they are trying to discuss those issues and that these demonstrators are really taking away from what's going on behind closed doors.

FRAZIER: Kelly, some of the peaceful demonstrators, include Bob Geldof, the former British rock musician, who is very deeply involved now in debt relief for third world nations, often gather at these sessions seeking little side meetings with the authorities, and some of those did occur earlier, in Davos, Switzerland, and I think there were some also in Quebec. Are you getting any word yet whether there's been any willingness on the part of the leaders to meet with those people?

WALLACE: That's a good point. As you mentioned, in Quebec, there were meetings with those nongovernmental organizations concerned about issues, such as labor rights and the environment. At this summit, the officials here like to point out that they were meeting with leaders of other countries, such as South Africa and Nigeria, the developing world, to talk about AIDS, to talk about debt relief, to talk about ways to lift up those economies. So from the administration's perspective, it is saying that the best way to sort of deal with concerns such as labor and environmental rights is to sort of keep a dialogue going, keep the negotiation going, have it with the leaders and the nongovernmental organizations. They feel like they are doing that.

Obviously, many of these protesters here don't feel like they're getting listened to enough. That's certainly a concern of some of the people who took to streets here in Genoa -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Kelly, we're listening hard to you, but it's getting harder now as that helicopter fires up behind you. Thank you very much for those insights from Genoa, Italy, today.



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