March Against War for Oil
Nov. 9, 2002
400,000 protest Iraq war and globalization in
from the Associated Press primarily
Hundreds of thousands of people from all over Europe marched through Florence,
Italy on Saturday to protest a possible war against Iraq and the negative impact
of globalization amid stepped-up security.
The demonstration was the high point of an anti-globalization gathering that
started Wednesday and ends Sunday. The anti-globalization gathering is called
"The European Social Forum," and is part of the World Social Forum
which meets annually in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It drew to Florence around
35,000 delegates from hundreds of associations.
Organizers said 400,000 people were in the protest. The more-than-expected
flood of demonstrators caused the demonstration to start more than an hour early.
Protesters came from Greece, Spain, Britain, Denmark and elsewhere to protest
U.S. policy on Iraq and the transnational corporations which harm the poor and
"We want to demonstrate that a different world is possible," said
Noemi Cucchi, 31, who arrived in Florence on Saturday morning with her sister
from the Italian port city of Ancona.
Headed by a banner reading "No War," the marchers walked peacefully
through Florence, with rainbow flags and signs, as curious Florentines looked
down from their apartment windows.
The atmosphere was relaxed, with some demonstrators dressed as clowns, some
eating as they walked, or roller-bladed along the route, shouting "Hands
off the Middle East" and "The real terrorist is the West!"
"I really just wanted to be a part of this," said a pink-haired
Justine Trillaud, aged 16, who came from Paris by bus with a group of about 20
Marchers were to walk along the Arno River for some of the 6 1/2 kilometer (4
mile) march to nearby the soccer stadium and end with a concert.
Florence's center, with its narrow alleys, its Renaissance buildings and art
treasures, was banned for the protest for "security concerns," and
dozens of police vehicles were parked on side streets off the march route to
block any demonstrators.
Many shops in the fashionable streets closed, putting metal or wooden shutters
to protect their windows. The jewelers' stores on the Ponte Vecchio, the
three-arch bridge, have kept their wood shutters down for days.
After weeks of debate over whether to allow the anti-globalization meeting,
Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government gave approval, but imposed strict
The air space above the city has been closed to private aircraft. The Schengen
Treaty, which allows for no border controls when travelers go from country to
country in the 15-nation grouping, was suspended.
The demonstration Saturday was seen as a major test for Italian police, who shot
a protester dead, by a Carabinieri paramilitary officer. Hundreds were
wounded during clashes in the streets and the bloody police raids on sleeping
protesters in buildings.
Images of wrecked banks, gas stations and stores in Genoa are still vivid for
observers and media consumers.
Some predicted a repeat of militant protest and police violence in Florence, but
the anti-globalization gathering has been peaceful, with no incidents reported
and a carnival atmosphere at a 16th century fortress which has served as the
headquarters for the gathering. Food stands, exhibits and street theater complement the
dozens of discussions held inside.
A small anti-war demonstration in front of a U.S. military base Wednesday, which
had sparked "public security concerns," took place without major
The anti-globalization movement got going big-time at the 1999 World Trade
Organization summit in Seattle. For over two years, anti-globalization
protests have been held at all international summits.
Some analysts claim the movement reached its peak at the Genoa summit and lost
momentum since the Sept. 11 attacks.
(Thus a similar AP article ended, on a pessimistic note for future protests -