Italy: Some words by Anarchist comrade Juan Antonio Sorroche Fernandez from the prison of Terni
[Round Robin] We receive and spread:
This piece has finally arrived. Juan had mentioned it in his letters. We thought it had been censored. In fact it was confirmed that on 4th October 2019 an investigating judge seized it as he considered it “instigation to commit a crime” or some form of incitement to “anarchist activity” and seized it in order to protect the forces of order.
We agree with Juan’s desire to have it spread and ask you to publish it.
“How do you prevent a drop of water from drying up? Let it go to the sea.”
In this text I tell how my arrest on 22nd May 2019 went. I tell it as a matter of fact and not to denounce the illegality of police methods or as a victim’s tale.
Above all I don’t want the way my arrest went and what happened during the transfer to Brescia police headquarters to be something secret between myself and the Digos who arrested me. I sincerely don’t want to have anything in common with them. I don’t want to share anything with them, especially my anxieties or “what can’t be said” for fear of a taboo, as an unwritten pact between “macho gentlemen” that might undermine my virility (?!).
And finally the words spoken in the police station by a Digos cop dressed as a rock biker (probably from Trento police station, given his knowledge of me…) who advises me in a “friendly” manner, like a brother or a father, to only write personal letters to friends and not communiques to be circulated publicly. This made me think that spreading what happened could be a good option.
Just before my arrest I was walking in the mountains and took a path where I encountered a big dog that started to get ugly with me. This is the path that I’d have taken on the way back. I have great respect for dogs and avoid them if I can, so on the way back I decided to take the main road towards Tavernola.
There I chanced upon two suspicious cyclists: one had the face of a drunkard and not exactly a sportsman… more like someone who sits in some dive smoking and drinking 24 hours a day… with all due respect for drunkards!
They asked me for directions. I politely gave them. I had my suspicions but was too sure of myself and the territory, too sure!
So I cast suspicions and paranoia aside and went on.
At the third turn I saw two cars. I stopped for a moment. I didn’t like the look of them but I carried on.
I wasn’t sure they were cops, I kept on thinking it was paranoia even if I was on high alert. As I went closer I saw two people, each alone at the wheel of their car. They were dressed as “mountain folk”.
What seemed very strange to me (and there I became certain they were police… I felt it, but by now I was very close to the first car) was that they were inside the cars, one behind the other, without talking to each other, stock-still.
I couldn’t go back and instead of going behind where no one was sitting, I preferred to pass in front of them so as to be able to control their moves and prevent them from closing me in on their way out. As I went past the first car, I see the first “mountain man” out of the corner of my eye getting out with a wooden stick in his hand.
I thought: “here goes!”
I was in front of the car door of the second mountain man.
I thought they wanted to follow me to see where I was going.
When the second mountain man got out I was 50 metres away from them. Around me, left and right, were only mountains. I thought this is it! So I made a dash and went running off like mad! In a flash I had left them fifty metres behind. I was running like a madman. They were shouting and kept on chasing me.
I carried on for a while, leaving them about a hundred metres behind or maybe more. But I was afraid another police car might come from the direction I was running in, something that I think actually happened.
They were shouting something at me but I don’t know what. Really, I didn’t feel anything, I wasn’t scared but I had so much adrenaline in my body that I didn’t understand anything. My brain was at full speed…too much! I was out of control, really like a wild animal. I couldn’t keep on going like that because they had cars and because of my running speed.
I had two roads to choose from to keep on running and hide, but I chose the wrong one. Honestly I lost control. If I had managed to keep rational I’d have taken the example from boars’ instinct that in an emergency situation run down and down the mountain because you run faster and it’s easier to escape, rather than go up as I did…
On my left there was a cliff 3 or 4 metres down, on my right a cleft 4 or 5 metres upwards.
I wasn’t lucid and took a leap to the right managing to reach the cleft midway. I was slipping, but I managed to go up almost to the top. Below me were 3 or 4 cops.
By then I was at the end of my tether. I was at the top, I could have gone towards the woods, but couldn’t see anything because of my agitation.
It was a strange sensation: I gave up due to lack of strength but as soon as I did I really felt that going ahead to the wood was dangerous, not so much for what was ahead of me or the threats, which I hardly heard. It was more an animal instinct of survival. I gave up and as I turned I had a cops’ gun pointed on me. I don’t think he intended to shoot, but …?!
So I went back and let myself slide down the cleft. There they grabbed me and threw me to the ground. They were very agitated and pissed off (you know they get pissed off if you make them run!) As I was on the ground they put me facedown, maybe with kicks, I can’t remember, I was still full on. When I was immobilized a car turned up. They didn’t handcuff me, they just immobilized me with my hands behind my back and stuck me on the back seat, lying facedown with a cop over me who grabbed hold of my hands. The driver and the one sitting at the front began to search me if I could call it that: they literally pulled off my clothes. I had a small 22-litre rucksack with me, which they tore off with all its pockets. At a certain point the car stopped after about 100 metres, the door near my head opened and someone started punching my head on the temporal bone and temple. To be honest I didn’t feel anything. Then they put plastic handcuffs around my wrists, they tightened them so much that it blocked the circulation in my hands. At this point they put me in a position (a position they had planned, I think): my legs in the direction of the driver where back passengers put their feet; my lower back in the middle of the back seat; my head between the two front seats.
My body was “U” shaped. The policeman on the passenger seat was keeping my head in a grip (if you try you’ll see it’s a good one), with his thumb stuck between my neck and jaw and the other 4 fingers over my head, which he crushed against the side of the seat. I could see almost nothing: one eye was covered by the cop’s fingers, the other one was crushed against the seat with the rest of my face.
On the back seat, my arse and back were in the middle, a cop on the right hand side and another on the left.
We set off. The cop in the front started asking me: “where do you sleep?” I didn’t answer. I wasn’t speaking. So the one next to me on the driver’s side began to squeeze my kidney with his elbow until I let out shouts and they kept on asking “where do you sleep?”
He squeezed my kidney again. I was trying not to shout or talk but it was a strange and very irritating pain. A moan was slipping out of me. Then he squeezed again and I told him I was sleeping in the mountain. There was pandemonium inside me and I was afraid that if I started giving answers the “squeezing” of the kidney would increase and so would the questions, which in theory I was not obliged to answer. I didn’t want to. I was afraid but not only. Meantime one of them was saying: “you like placing bombs?!” “What if you killed a family father?” “You like playing the partisan, eh?” “Now we’ll show you!” “You stink like a shepherd!”
True, I was stinking of mountain goat and fire smoke… how strange is the mind: I thought “what fault is it of the shepherd?!” (sigh!) It was strange to have these “light” thoughts while I was going through really a bad time! At the times when the cops kept on squeezing my kidney my brain was going at full speed amidst sudden changes between fear, excitement, courage, discouragement. All in a tenth of a second. Continuous changes in a vortex of thoughts at an impressive speed. Then I thought of zen. I’m not joking. I breathed a little then thought: “that’s not right!” I mustn’t struggle against my pain and anxiety, I must abandon myself to them. Accept! I know, it’s very hippie but that’s it!
I had to let myself go and stop being so rigid, after all I was the weaker and was tied up. So I realized something: each time he squeezed, if I let go with shouts or if I shouted before he hurt me, he released me earlier. I say it again: it’s a very strange and irritating pain when they squeeze your kidney. So if I made a scene he’d let go of me. Moreover, as soon as he asked a question, if I waited for the right moment between my answer and the start of the “kidney squeezing”, I could shout and so not answer. And I made my shouts last longer so that I didn’t have to answer any questions at all. I know, it’s not very dignified, but who gives a fuck! It was effective as a tactic.
At a certain point in the journey (from Marmentino to Brescia takes about forty minutes), after about 10-15 minutes I couldn’t feel my hands at all, not even tingling, because of the plastic cuffs I think. And from time to time the guy who squeezed my kidney asked the other cop if my hands were blue. They communicated with gestures and I couldn’t understand what they were saying… I don’t know, maybe to scare me. As a matter of fact I couldn’t feel my hands anymore and the position was hellish: my body was “U” shaped; my legs were tingling and as soon as I moved a little, the guy squeezed my kidney.
They didn’t ask me all that many questions, only “where did I stay?” But after the first 10-15 minutes they didn’t ask anymore. They “only” kept squeezing my kidney when I moved. But in a way it was a relief not to be asked questions. I couldn’t wait to arrive at destination, at least if they beat me it wouldn’t be in that position!
Half an hour or 40 minutes later we arrived at the police headquarters in Brescia, where the Digos are located. In the last 10 minutes the cops were calmer and even though I was still in quite an uncomfortable position and there was no blood circulation in my hands, at least they had stopped squeezing my kidney!
As soon as we arrived at Brescia police headquarters they dumped me on the floor like a parcel and those who were waiting there started kicking me. Someone told them to keep calm. They were very agitated. I was a little less so, given that I was now in a lying down position and they had removed the strips… what a relief!
They took my shoes off to see if there was anything inside them. Since entering the police headquarters the situation had changed completely and they no longer touched me! On the contrary… they treated me in a very correct way, to such a point it seemed suspicious to me. Any time I wanted to go to the toilet they took me there, they gave me water and also chocolate (like a little monkey! Ha! Ha!). I remained handcuffed from 11am to 10pm with my hands behind my back sitting on a chair in an office with an escort of 2 or 3 Digos cops wearing balaclavas. There were quite a lot of them all over the place. Some of them “knew” me very well: the rocker one who advised me not to write communiques; the Brescia Digos chief, a man; and a woman from Venice, I don’t know whether a magistrate or a Digos chief. The chief asked me to collaborate and tell them about the keys I had, saying they would find out where I was staying anyway. I answered I didn’t know what she was talking about. She didn’t insist much… two or three times, and she said she knew I was the culprit concerning an action in Treviso… so much for being innocent until proven guilty! I told her it was not her job to judge. Then at 10pm they took me to the Brescia prison.
I’m writing this to explain how I experienced it. At the time I was very agitated and maybe the order of things was different, but these were my sensations without exaggerating or minimising them, but with a thousand contrasting feelings. I know they didn’t treat me with velvet gloves, but I’m not complaining. Honestly, I don’t feel or think I was tortured or even beaten hard. But the fact that they didn’t doesn’t take anything from the fact they did to others! Killings such as the Cucchi case, the Frapporti case in Rovereto, the Uva case, the murder of Carlo Giuliani, of anarchist Pinelli killed in Milan police headquarters by inspector Calabresi, the tortures in Genoa and Bolzaneto in the Diaz school, etc. These practices happen and are STRUCTURAL to any capitalist State and are not, as the law usually wants us to believe, an exception, a mistake or the usual rotten apples to be expelled, no! I repeat this is due to the way the State and society are structured.
We can expect anything from the enemy at any time, not only for ourselves, and we must be aware of that and remember it: generally the State and its repressive forces have never respected, or never will respect their sacred rights and laws, however much they say they do: they don’t let the slightest infraction pass, making sure it is paid for with months in prison. But only for the poor! Not for the privileged, the politicians, the powerful of the multinationals and banks and various kinds of cops, who are regularly acquitted. Double standards! And we see this every day in Parliament, courts, the streets and the prisons. All this with no restraint or shame!
I’m not interested in a fairer State or in constitutional rights. These will always be instruments of submission and exploitation in the hands of the authoritarian State.
“Legal” and “illegal” belong to authority, for the profit of the few as well as for their hypocrisy.
“We need to struggle and struggle to put an end to disproportion”
And whatever path we tread, always with our hearts! For Anarchy!
Juan Sorroche – Prison of Terni AS2
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 2nd, 2020 at 7:33 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.