On Saturday 16th March 2013, around 10,000 people took part in a demonstration in Milan to commemorate ten years since the murder of Davide Cesare aka ‘Dax’ by fascists.
Traffic in the city centre was blocked while a section of the demonstration attacked banks and luxury hotels with rocks, hammers and flares. Others sprayed graffiti on the city’s walls: ‘Dax odia ancora’ (‘Dax still hates’) or ‘Dax Vive’ (‘Dax lives’). Also, the Scuola Militare Teuliè – one of the oldest military academies in the world – was attacked as activists kicked open the doors, smashed windows and threw flares inside the building and there were clashes with the police, in which the police fired teargas at demonstrators.
The demonstration was organised in several blocs, representing groups from across the country and abroad. Blocs representing students’ organisations, anti-fascist groups and social centres were present, as well as local squatted housing and anti-eviction committees, self-organised popular sport centres (sports associations which have anti-fascism and solidarity as founding principles) and migrants’ groups.
The demonstration snaked across town, sometimes ignoring the route previously agreed with the police. It eventually finished in Corvetto, a working class area in the south-east of the city, where an abandoned building had been occupied before the demonstration and was used for a concert in the evening, with some of Italy’s most famous hip-hop acts playing. As well as all this on the Saturday, there was also a demonstration of students on Friday and a day of ’People’s Sports for Dax’ organised for the Sunday.
Milan’s ‘Black Night’ – 16th March 2003
Dax was an anti-fascist activist and activist involved in the squatted social centre l’ORSO (Officina della Resistenza Sociale – Social Resistance Workshop). On the evening of March 16th 2003, Davide and two other ORSO activists left a local bar in Milan’s Ticinese area, an area filled with various left-wing social centres, bookshops and other spaces. Shortly after, they were confronted by three fascists, a father and his two sons, armed with knives.
Dax was stabbed over a dozen times while his friends were also wounded. As word went round the neighbourhood that three local activists had been stabbed, police and carabinieri arrived on the scene and, in doing so, blocked the arrival of the ambulances.
Eventually the ambulances would take the injured activists away. One, though badly injured, was relatively stable while another would need emergency surgery, which miraculously saved his life. Tragically, however, Dax would die in the ambulance, on his way to San Paolo hospital, leaving behind a wife, child and many friends.
To make things worse, however, the police and carabinieri present at the hospital began, on hearing that he had died, to insult Dax’s friends and fellow activists, dozens of whom had come to the hospital, saying things like “that’s one less”. Fighting broke out and riot police charged inside the hospital, attacking people ruthlessly, breaking teeth and noses, and eventually closing down an Emergency Room covered in blood.
Furthermore, in 2009, despite video evidence of indiscriminate police violence and witness testimonies from medical staff at the hospital, all police were acquitted while two activists were condemned to a year and eight months in prison as well as fines totalling €130,000.
Fascist violence is not a thing of the past in Italy, with several attacks on left-wing activists this year, not to mention one in December 2012, in which Stefano – one of Dax’s friends – was stabbed at Milan’s Central Station.
However, Saturday’s demonstration showed that Davide’s struggle, not just against fascism but also capitalism, continues today regardless of all violent attempts to subdue it. Indeed, perhaps it is the turnout on Saturday of not only anti-fascists but of working class militants from a wide-range of struggles that still gives meaning to the slogan: ‘Dax Lives’.