Toni Negri - Interview - Venice - 7 March 2011





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Uploaded on May 31, 2011

This website contains film materials produced by the cinematography department of the Free University [aka Universitas adversitatis].
Politics by other means.
It is a work in progress.
As and when I find the time and resources, I shall add subtitles, improve video quality, etc.
You can contact me at ed.emery [@] soas.ac.uk.
C'est tout.

Below I attach a translated account of the Trani Prison riot. Subject to youtube.com space restrictions. If you want the full text, e-mail me.

The Revolt at Trani Prison (1980)

Excerpted from Toni Negri, Revolution Retrieved: Writings on Marx, Keynes, capitalist crisis, and new social subjects (1967-83), Red Notes, London, 1988.

This is Trani, seen through the eyes of Giorgio Baumgartner, Luciano Nieri, Emilio Vesce and Toni Negri , reported via their comrades.

A difficult and fragmented account, drawn up only two weeks after the events, and highlighted by their bruised and swollen faces, by their bitter mood, by the disgusting conditions of prison visits -- dividing glass partitions, communication via microphones, the confusion, the twenty short minutes of a prison visit.

The Background

On December 12th 1980, the Red Brigades kidnapped the magistrate D'Urso, in order to "get Asinara closed" [trans: an antiquated prison island]. Some days later at Palmi prison, prisoners held a brief stoppage during their association period. At Fossombrone prison only one section of prisoners backed the kidnap.

At Trani , up until the 28th of December, there was nothing.

In Trani Special Prison, the political geography has developed as follows:

a) The Struggle Committee (around the Red Brigades) -- an organised structure.

b) The Autonomous Collective (around Prima Linea) -- an organised structure.

c) The April 7th comrades -who do not recognise themselves in any existing organisational structure.

d) The comrades of the Policlinico Collective -- ditto.

e) Other comrades -- ditto.

The Special Wing is situated on 3 floors of a separate block. A stairwell divides each floor into two sections.

On the gound floor there are "dangerous" criminals.

On the first floor there are Red Brigaders and Prima Linea members.

On the third floor (A-Section), there are single-room cells: these hold a number of Red Brigaders, as well as Toni Negri and others. In B-Section -- cells holding 5 people in only 2 rooms -- Baumgartner, Nieri, Ferrari Bravo and one other are held. Emilio Vesce is held in a separate cell.

The cells have double doors -- an internal door, made of iron bars, which is closed all day, and an outer door, of sheet steel with a spy-hole, which is closed at night.

The Revolt

It is 3-3.30pm on the afternoon of December 12th. Most people have returned from the afternoon exercise period. Luciano, Giorgio and Luciano are already in their cell and the barred door is closed. A short while later our comrades gather that something is up, because the guards start shouting. They come and lock the cell's outer door, and will not explain what is happening.

Luciano manages to use a small mirror to see that masked men are moving around the wing. After an hour and a half; their cell-door is forced off its hinges and broken open by the "masked" prisoners.

Prison warder Telesca was taken hostage, after being wounded with a makeshift dagger, by elements of the Struggle Committee. It was not clear whether this happened during the return from exercise, or after they had returned to their cells (whose bars had previously been sawn through). Then, using his keys, the Struggle Committee released their associates from their cells.

The other guards were taken hostage, and the whole wing was soon under their control.

From 5.00pm to Nightfall

The prison authorities' first act of retaliation is to cut off electricity, water and heating, and the TV. The Struggle Committee negotiates with the Governor via the internal telephone on the first floor. Luciano and the other comrades stay out of the way on the second floor. The guards are then taken up to the second floor and divided up between A-Section and B-Section.

Guard Telesca's Condition Worsens

The Struggle Committee telephone the authorities to come and take Telesca, because his condition is getting worse and they do not have the medical means to see to him. The authorities reply: "Get your doctor to look after him" (referring to Giorgio Baumgartner). Only at this point did the Struggle Committee approach Giorgio. He offered first aid, and himself asked the authorities for antibiotics and other medicaments, along with professional opinion, and sedatives to calm the hostage guard. Giorgio also asked for the electricity to be switched on again so that he could see to the wounds. He received no reply. Our comrades spent the night in their cell. [continues...]

Translation: Ed Emery [1988, revised 2011]


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