Italy: A personal experience of enforced DNA sampling

For more than a year now forcibly collected DNA sampling has been used by Italian police in the ritual of identification for anybody they arrest or detain, and comrades imprisoned after the last repressive operation in Turin did not escape. If you want to resist the harvest then cops take your DNA by force, and succeeding in getting the upper hand against the guardians of order and control in the police department is more than difficult.

In the essay below, a comrade who was incarcerated following May 3rd operation in Turin, who is still in detention, wonders about possible strategies to oppose the process.

I will write a few lines to tell you what happened during our arrests a few days ago, from the trip to the central police station of via Grattoni in Turin and the identification procedure.

We had just arrived at the police station to go through the formalities of imprisonment — we were taken to the usual controls of mugshot and fingerprints (in Italy it is not possible to refuse being fingerprinted). Then they began calling us for DNA sampling.

Even if at that moment we were all separated, as in all phases of identification, all had in mind what to do. Having already discussed the DNA issue, and as we were interested in understanding whether there was room to oppose it, we decided to refuse the levy and resist.

Once our refusal was expressed, the digos and police investigators began to talk among themselves, mimicking the gestures of what would have been a forced levy.

I was allowed to rejoin another companion and we each lit a cigarette, but after scarcely a few puffs five agents of the Special Operations Division of Italy (digos) threw themselves upon us, trying to stifle our cries. After a scuffle they managed to grab one cigarette but not the other.

So one of us was taken away and searched and yet nothing was found so a digos agent, visibly irritated by the episode, retraced his steps and, amid the cigarette butts thrown by the dozens and tens of people arrested each day and perhaps by the police officers themselves, took one and put it in a bag writing one of our names.

We requested a report of the episode but were refused and after an hour of waiting the “proper” collection took place. One by one we were taken to a police forensic office. I’ll tell you how it happened to me. I went into the office and I was handcuffed and I was seated, on my left a camera mounted on a tripod. In front of me two men in scientists’ shirts, behind me five or six digos agents and two carabiniers (paramilitary police) in uniforms to participate in the ceremony.

The show begins, the camera begins to record, the material in an envelope of the ministry is opened, a police official recites a formula of procedure to which I answer in the negative. Suddenly the digos agents, helped by the carabinieri, throw themselves on me, hands around their necks, head back, they press hard, they try to make me open their mouth, they strike me in the belly and try to push their fingers into my cheeks and ribs.

Meanwhile one of the two shirted fugrues approaches and presses a pad on my closed lips, hard. They clog my nose, I can not breathe, I open my mouth, the agent thrusts the tampon in several times. Tears come out of my eyes, I have a vomit reflex, my face is covered in drool. The operation is repeated again, worse, and even some of those present, perhaps novices in the practice, do not seem to like the scene.

Everything ends. Curtain, but without applause.

This narrative is meant to give a snapshot of what happens in cases where you refuse to spontaneously open your mouth and show how the sampling proceeds. Many will say “but what were you expecting? An invitation to dinner? “

Personally I expected it to happen. Obviously living it is not exactly like imagining it, but I was ready. Above all, I was interested in what we can do, where we can be motivated, what can we invent to prevent it, disrupt and not normalise this abominable and disgusting practice like those who put it in place.

~ One of the incarcerated in Turin


Edited machine translation of an article in Rubble