July 17, 2008
It was just before midnight when the first police officer hit Mark Covell, swiping his truncheon down on his left shoulder. Covell did his best to yell out in Italian that he was a journalist but, within seconds, he was surrounded by riot-squad officers thrashing him with their sticks. For a while, he managed to stay on his feet but then a baton blow to the knee sent him crashing to the pavement.
Lying on his face in the dark, bruised and scared, he was aware of police all around him, massing to attack the Diaz Pertini school building where 93 young demonstrators were bedding down on the floor for the night. Covell’s best hope was that they would break through the chain around the front gates without paying him any more attention. If that happened, he could get up and limp across the street to the safety of the Indymedia centre, where he had spent the past three days filing reports on the G8 summit and on its violent policing.
It was at that moment that a police officer sauntered over to him and kicked him in the chest with such force that the entire lefthand side of his rib cage caved in, breaking half-a-dozen ribs whose splintered ends then shredded the membrane of his left lung. Covell, who is 5ft 8in and weighs less than eight stone, was lifted off the pavement and sent flying into the street. He heard the policeman laugh. The thought formed in Covell’s mind: “I’m not going to make it.”
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