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Milan, from February 24 to March 17, 1967.

The Establishment hinders the distribution of Mondo Beat magazine and the Mondo Beat Movement faces the Establishment: it is the baptism of fire of the Contestation.



Returning to the third issue of Mondo Beat magazine, the Tecnografica Milanese had delivered 4,000 copies of it on the afternoon of February 24.
Saturday morning of February 25, boys and girls of the Movement lined up in The Cave to take copies of the Magazine and sell them in the streets. Melchiorre Gerbino was one of the vendors, as he wanted to see people's reactions.
People were interested in the Magazine and bought, because Mondo Beat was known for the many youths who joined the Movement. I sold my hundred copies in two hours, which was no exception, as almost everyone who distributed the Magazine did the same. The price of the copy was £ 100, of which 25 for the seller. So a seller, in 2 hours, would have earned £ 2,500. It was a lot of money, since a full meal, including wine, cost £ 400 in common restaurants.

In the late afternoon of Sunday 26, Umberto Tiboni announced that 6,000 copies of the Magazine had been sold, 3,000 of the last issue and 3,000 residues of the previous one. In The Cave, we lived hours of joy, but they didn't last long.
The next day, traffic police were looking for the youths who sold the Magazine in the streets, asking for the "peddler license", in the absence of which they confiscated the copies and imposed a fine of £ 18,000 for "violation of Law 121 on public safety".
After blocking the sale of the Magazine, Melchiorre Gerbino and Umberto Tiboni consulted to decide what to do. They decided to take over the tasks Vittorio Di Russo had had in Mondo Beat. Then, Umberto Tiboni would have maintained contacts with the Milanese anarchists and radicals, while Melchiorre Gerbino would have led the Movement at public events. In this new role, Melchiorre Gerbino promptly turned to the youths who crowded in The Cave and he proposed a three-day hunger strike, to attract public attention, then a rally to paralyze the center of Milan during the rush hours of evening traffic.
As these proposals were accepted unanimously, messengers were sent to Genoa, Turin, Padua, Venice, Trento, Bologna, Florence, Rome ... to ask the youths of Mondo Beat to gather in Milan.



Mondo Beat's hunger strike (Milan, 4-7 March 1967)

The nuns were not asked for any license to sell the magazine Famiglia Cristiana on the streets
Before us, ask the nuns for the public safety license n.121 (La licenza di P.S. 121 chiedetela prima alle monache)

One of the posters, displayed on a window of The Cave, reads: "Before us, ask the nuns for public security license No. 121", as the nuns sold copies of Famiglia Cristiana magazine on the street without a license.

On March 4, on the occasion of the start of the hunger strike, the windows of The Cave were used for the first time to display posters. Since then, this practice would have continued uninterruptedly. Although the posters were written in the ugly handwriting of Melchiorre Gerbino, they would have proved to be of great importance, since they would have been photographed and published by newspapers and magazines and seen by hundreds of thousands of persons allover Italy. In fact, the windows of The Cave would have proved to be the main factor for spreading the Contestation throughout the mass.
Below, I will give proof of the enormous importance of the windows of The Cave in triggering the Contestation

 In this photo, Dante Palla is in the foreground ; Melchiorre Gerbino at the entrance of The Cave
What L'Unità published, on March 6, on Mondo Beat's hunger strike.

You have to consider that L'Unità was the official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party which, at the time of Mondo Beat, was the largest Communist Party in the Western world and the most voted party in the legislative elections in Italy. It is therefore understandable how this newspaper had distribution all over the Italian territory and that a photo, like this published on Mondo Beat's hunger strike, was seen by hundreds of thousands of people. And not only this. Since L'Unità was linked to local newspapers and magazines, these media also would have published this photo.
Now, consider that Mondo Beat's hunger strike lasted from March 4 to 7 and L'Unità published about it on the 6th, that is to say when the hunger strike was still going on and people living in Milan, and the surrounding area, still had enough time to come at The Cave to take a look.
And look now at these two photos posted below

Melchiorre Gerbino in a T-shirt
The people who thronged outside The Cave in the late evening of March 6, as the inside was completely crowded


Albert Villy Augerau plays the guitar, next to him Eros Alesi, wearing a poncho
People outside The Cave late on the evening of March 6, when photojournalists projected strong illumination on them to take photos

In fact, so many people have arrived, that The Cave could not contain them all. These two photos were taken very late on the evening of March 6, imagine how many people had flocked in the afternoon of the same day! So many that traffic in Via Vicenza, the street where The Cave was located, was paralyzed and motorists had to divert to other streets.
Furthermore, when ordinary people realized that they could visit The Cave day and night, and could stay there as long they wanted, without being subjected to any obligation, the phenomenon of ordinary people who visited The Cave would have increased more and more. And since in The Cave there was a permanent exhibition of paintings of the youths of the Movement, The Cave also became a gallery and paintings were easily sold due to the many visitors

 In this photo, from left, Zafferano, Alfredo and Loredana
The ground floor of The Cave also became a gallery.

In conclusion. Without the windows of The Cave, Mondo Beat would not have been able to trigger the Contestation. The communists liked to show images of our windows in their newspaper L'Unità, because we openly faced the Establishment. In turn, the conservative newspapers Corriere della Sera, Corriere d'Informazione, La Notte, could not help showing images of Mondo Beat, as also their readers were interested in the Beats, due to so many teenagers, boys and girls, who escaped from home for joining them. These conservative newspapers tried to project a negative image of Mondo Beat but, the more they tried, the more they fell into the trap of giving resonance to Mondo Beat. All this was unprecedented, since no one had used the windows as we did in The Cave. And it was unprecedented not only in Italy, but everywhere, as the Contestation itself.
Some articles on Mondo Beat's hunger strike

As for the hunger strike, the event was covered by the press throughout the Italian territory since the Mondo Beat Movement had already spread over it.

Articles of various newspapers on Mondo Beat's hunger strike (1)
"We decided that they have to bring us the respect due"

At the bottom left of this collage of articles, there is one by the newspaper Il Giorno, where one can read what Melchiorre Gerbino declared, during the hunger strike: "After this hunger strike, we will hold a public demonstration, we will lie down in the middle of the street. We decided that they have to bring us the respect due."

Articles of various newspapers on Mondo Beat's hunger strike (2)
"The Beats of Milan do not surrender"

The Gazzetta del Popolo of Turin was a progressive newspaper and was supporting Mondo Beat's hunger strike, as it was evident that it was made to affirm civil rights. Therefore, it titled its article "The Beats of Milan do not surrender".

Journalist Romana Rutelli exaggerated with 'We are ready to die of hunger', as none of us had declared this
Melchiorre Gerbino affirmed that the youth of Mondo Beat didn't fight against progress, denying what the reactionary press wanted people to believe.


The hunger strike, and the rally that would have followed, coincided with an annual assembly of the Lombard journalists. "Il Giornalismo" was the official organ of the Association. Here an excerpt from the speech, given on that occasion, by Carlo De Martino, the President of the Order. At one point, he talked about the situation in the "Special List" (Elenco Speciale), where Mondo Beat magazine was registered

(Il Giornalismo - March 1967)
In the photo, the second from the left is Luigi Marinatto, who made the decision to accept Mondo Beat magazine in the Special List
Carlo De Martino, the President of the Order of Lombard Journalists, on Mondo Beat magazine.
In the photo, the second from the left is Luigi Marinatto, who made the decision to accept Mondo Beat magazine in the Special List.

The description that the President of the Order of Lombard Journalists, Carlo De Martino, made about a police raid against the editorial staff of Mondo Beat magazine was imaginative and picturesque. But De Martino didn't know what else to say. Indeed, the situations that the Contestation created were unprecedented.

Some photos on Mondo Beat's hunger strike

The hunger strike was the first Mondo Beat event covered by the press throughout the Italian territory
Photos taken in the cellar of The Cave during Mondo Beat's hunger strike

*

The hunger strike ended on March 7 at noon. Shortly after, the two or three police informants, who were habitually in The Cave, would have gone to lunch and then to have a siesta, and they would haven't returned before 5 pm. So, after they left, we lowered the portcullises of The Cave in half, and Giorgio Contini guarded the entrance, while young people from Milan and other Italian cities, who would have participated in the rally, arrived, among them there were also Frenchmen, Germans and Englishmen, of those guys who had rescued Florence together with the Italian Beats. At 4 pm, the premises of The Cave were packed with youths. Then, small groups of 3 or 4 people begun to leave The Cave. Once out of The Cave, they would take different directions, for not making suspicious those cops who usually were stationed nearby. We would all have gathered at the Arco di Porta Venezia at 6 pm.
Sent by Giuseppe Pinelli, a chimney sweep, named Vito, arrived with his van at The Cave. He was an anarchist from Sacco e Vanzetti. He uploaded the signs we had prepared for the event, to leave them under the Arch of Porta Venezia at 6 pm.
Andrea Valcarenghi and Melchiorre Gerbino were the last two people to leave The Cave. Only Umberto Tiboni and Giorgio Contini remained, to keep The Cave open, because it was a refuge, since the police did not have access to it without a mandate from the magistracy.




"Rally to Contestate the Establishment" (Manifestazione di Contestazione del Sistema) - Milan, March 7, 1967
(All photos are of press agencies, some have been reproduced above parts of the "Manifesto di Mondo Beat" of Giò Tavaglione)

Due to the traffic jam we caused, the military wouldn't have been able to get us before two hours from the start of the event
The "Rally to Contestate the Establishment" started from the Arco di Porta Venezia at 6 pm, from there it proceeded towards Piazza Duomo.

We started with the event at 6 pm because that was the most intense hour of evening traffic. Due to the traffic jam we caused, the military could not have caught us within two hours of the start of the event.


Dressed in white, Andrea Valcarenghi
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Barry McBuir


The legendary baron Dante Palla during the Rally to Contestate the Establishment
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Dante Palla


Tella Ferrari with her inseparable notebook during the Rally to Contestate the Establishment
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Tella Ferrari
Here a link to see Tella Ferrari sitting at the entrance of The Cave.


 On the occasion of the sit-in, young girls, who lived in the Piazza San Babila's area, that is, the heart of Milan, left their homes and joined the boys of the Base of Mondo Beat
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Giorgio Cavalli Ombra
Here a link to see Giorgio Cavalli Ombra, who is the first sitting on the right.


Sit-in Piazza San Babila during the Rally to Contestate the Establishment
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Zafferano

On the occasion of the sit-in, some very young girls, who lived in the Piazza San Babila's area, that is, the heart of Milan, left their homes and joined the youths of the Base of Mondo Beat.

*

The intervention of the special police unit Celere was of unjustified violence, since the Beats didn't resist
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - The savage intervention of the special police unit "Celere"

The intervention of the special police unit "Celere" was very violent and of unjustified violence, since the youths did not resist, many of them were lying passively on the ground, but the police kicked them in the ribs. The police were furious because those who led the attack against the youths of the Base of Mondo Beat made the mistake of wanting to catch us by motorized means and, due to the turbulence of the traffic we had caused, they were unable to catch us before two hours of attempts. They could have caught us in ten minutes, if they had run on foot.


Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Alfio D'Agosta downed and taken to a police van


Nicola Paterlini Lino was the most talented guitarist among the many in Mondo Beat
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Nicola Paterlini Lino before and after the Rally.


Antonio Di Spagna was the most severely wounded among the many
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Antonio Di Spagna Papà lying on a stretcher inside a police van.

The newspaper Il Giorno, which published the article reproduced above, was a government daily based in Milan. Il Giorno showed a kind of sincere sympathy for the Mondo Beat Movement, this, because the famous journalist Giorgio Bocca, who worked there, was aware that the wind of renewal that blew from Mondo Beat was beneficial for Italian society.


L'Unità took the defence of Mondo Beat since it disturbed the government
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Cristina

As the Italian Communist Party opposed the government, its official newspaper, L'Unità, has always taken the defense of Mondo Beat, for the Machiavellian reason that the Movement faced the government.
In addition, the communists harbored the illusion of being able to incorporate Mondo Beat or, at least, that the Movement would have flanked them in some way. But Mondo Beat would have always made it clear of being an anarchist movement, far from the communists as much as from the fascists.
In the photos of this article, Antonio Di Spagna Papà and Nicola Paterlini Lino while lying on stretchers in a police van.


In the same photo, half lying on the ground, Cristo di Monza
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Daniele
Here a link to see Daniele and Adriana in the cellar of The Cave.

The daily Corriere d'Informazione, which published the article reproduced above, was part of the same publishing group of the Corriere della Sera, namely the Crespi Group, which was the most powerful publishing group in Italy and the most reactionary. In the strategy of giving a negative image of Mondo Beat, the Corriere d'Informazione would not have attacked Mondo Beat frontally, but with a sort of false take note of the facts, as indeed it would have distorted the facts a little here and there, the Corriere d'Informazione in the end would always have given a negative image of the Movement.


The Corriere della Sera against the Mondo Beat Movement
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Adriana.
Here a link to see Adriana and Ercolino.
The poster reads "One cannot kill an idea with a truncheon blow or a mandatory expulsion order".

As for the article published above, the Corriere della Sera has shown all its animosity against Mondo Beat, as the conservatives suspected that, somehow, the Movement converged with the communists. But, if it is true that communists and Beats had anti-government positions, their motivations were completely different and impossible to homogenize.
In the photo reproduced in this article, the poet Eros Alesi holds the sign "NON SCHEDATE LE NOSTRE CONSCIENCE" (Do not criminalize our consciences).
As described in the same article, Eros Alesi was injured by the police and taken to an hospital to receive three stitches.


The socialists played a double game, as they wanted to show they were progressive, when in reality they were part of a reactionary government
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Loredana, Alfredo, Maria and Angelo Bianco.

As for the article published by "Avanti!", the socialists, of which "Avanti!" was the official newspaper, apparently took a moderate defense of the Mondo Beat Movement, but in reality they played a double game, as they wanted to show that they were progressive, when in reality they were part of a reactionary government.

Two articles by Guido Boursier, of the Gazzetta del Popolo, Turin
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - The glorious "Base of Mondo Beat".

The Base of Mondo Beat was animated by youths from all walks of life and from all parts of Italy and other countries. Numerous girls participated, also in frontline actions. In fact, if you look carefully at the photo, Daniele is the one who raises his hand, and behind his left side there is a girl, on the other side there is another girl, of which only half face can be seen. Overall, more than twenty girls attended the Rally.

As for Guido Boursier, the journalist who wrote the two articles published above, he had arrived at The Cave along with about twenty youths from Turin, who would participate in the rally. In The Cave, Boursier interviewed many of us, including Frenchmen, Germans and Englishmen. Then he followed the rally.
He wrote two articles on two consecutive days, because in Turin there was a great political interest in following the events of the Mondo Beat Movement.
At the time of Mondo Beat, Turin was the most industrialized city in Italy, and many young people from this city participated in the Mondo Beat Movement, and they came from all walks of life, which was an unprecedented phenomenon, given that, since the defeat in the Second World War until the appearance of the Mondo Beat Movement, there was only the class struggle in Italy.

*

By reading the articles on the "Rally to Contestate the Establishment", you can clearly see how there were two different political positions regarding the Mondo Beat Movement, the one revealed mainly by the Corriere della Sera, which reflected the reactionary political area, who hated the Movement and wanted it to be wiped out, and the other, revealed mainly by L'Unità, which excessively defended Mondo Beat, because the Communists liked that the Movement destabilized the Establishment, and they also hoped to incorporate it into their party. Between these two positions, which were those of the capitalist bloc and the Soviet bloc, which faced each other in the Cold War, there was a thin no man's land which was heading towards the Global Village, which was not yet visible, but you could have an intellectual perception of it. Mondo Beat would have proceeded along this no-man's land, from beginning to end, without ever conceding anything to either of the two blocks, but would instead have attracted the youth vanguard of both sides. In fact, it was after the Rally to Contestate the Establishment that the phenomenon began of youths who abandoned the political sections of the extreme left, as well as of the extreme right, and joined the Mondo Beat Movement. These politicized youths joined the Movement because they saw how great was the courage of the Beats, as they openly faced power. Then, they would have appreciated the Beats because of their sexual freedom, the Beats not letting themselves be penalized by Catholic priests or other false moralists. Finally, they would have understood how far they had been from reality, that is, they had been in the prehistory of Hiroshima, when they had had Lenin's letters or Mussolini's speeches as ideological references.


Individual Contestations

The day after the Rally, only a few youths have come to The Cave. Many were still shocked because of the police attack of the previous day, others waited to see what would happen with the tug of war between Mondo Beat and Police headquarters. But on that day two young lawyers have come to The Cave, Alessandro Garlatti and Carlo Invernizzi, who had their law firm not far from our seat. They said they were interested in protecting our civil rights, if we accepted their patronage, as they would have submitted to the Court of Milan a complaint against the Police headquarters for unlawful conduct towards Mondo Beat. They were pupils of the notorious lawyer Francesco Carnelutti. They didn't ask for money, were looking for notoriety. We have accepted their patronage.

On March 9, comings and goings at The Cave normalized.
Of the forty youths who were caught by the police during the Rally (I was quick enough to take refuge in a cinema), all those who did not have legal residence in Milan had received mandatory expulsion orders. So, some of them had decided to leave Milan, while others had decided to remain for contestating the Establishment even more, knowing be imprisoned for a month if caught again by the police.

At around 8 am on March 10, six people left The Cave and walked towards the Liceo Parini (Parini High School). Two of them, Alfio D'Agosta Judas and Pierluigi Perronace Prince, had been arrested during the Rally and had received mandatory expulsion orders. A third, a Frenchman, Albert Villy Augerau, had been repatriated to France, but had returned illegally to Italy. The other three were, Ivan, an aristocrat of Russian origin, Barry McBuir and Melchiorre Gerbino.
The six arrived at the Liceo Parini a few moments before 8.30 am, when the bell would have rang to call the students. When the bell rang, the six climbed the stairs and formed a human cord between two columns, to block access to the school.
Then, Melchiorre Gerbino has shouted to the students: "Don't tell us you're dying of the desire to be tortured by the math teacher, a fifty-year-old virgin lady with a mustache!".
At that, a young priest made his way among the students - "Enough! - he said - We want to get inside, otherwise we will roll up our sleeves!" - and he rolled up a sleeve of his cassock. At this, Barry McBuir raised a knee against the genitals of that priest, who bowed and withdrew.
But then, the principal of Liceo Parini began to shout from a window on the facade of the building.
"You! Try to be more serious and responsible! - shouted Melchiorre Gerbino to the principal - Don't let these young people become gullible like those of your generation!"
The contestation lasted more than ten minutes, until we heard the sirens of two police cars approaching, then we gave to the legs, while the principal, who had gone mad, made vulgar gestures from the window.
Such a contestation was unprecedented (I know I use the term "unprecedented" often, but what may I do?). Nor the 6 of us had foreseen that hundreds of similar contestations would have followed in Italy.
In the afternoon of that day, many students from the Liceo Parini, which was the most aristocratic high school in Italy, came to visit us. To welcome them, we have displayed a poster on a window of The Cave: "Students, shout it from the desks!" (STUDENTI, GRIDATELO DAI BANCHI!)

The grotesque behavior of the police and the Italian judiciary against the Beats, the case of Pierluigi Perronace
"Students, shout it from the school desks!" - The first contestation of the Italian school.
The grotesque behavior of the police and the Italian judiciary against the Beats, the case of Pierluigi Perronace.

Pierluigi Perronace Prince was a Beat of the first hour. He belonged to a family from Calabria who had migrated to Milan and lived in its suburbs, that is to say Bollate. Before taking part in the contestation at the Liceo Parini (he was one of the 6), he had participated in the Rally and then he had been captured and subjected to a mandatory expulsion order. Given that he lived in the suburbs of Milan, such an expulsion order would have prevented him from going to the city center, for a period of three years.
Not having complied with the injunction and having been captured again by the police, he was imprisoned for a week before being taken to court, where he was sentenced to one month in prison (but with probation, since he was defended by two young lawyers provided by Onda Verde) but the magistrate who judged Pierluigi Perronace decreed that the mandatory expulsion order he had received was still valid, consequently he was forbidden to go from Bollate to the center of Milan.
In the end, Pierluigi Perronace went to India, to put an end to this grotesque situation,

*

On March 11, Alfio D'Agosta Judas, who had participated in the Rally and was one of the 6 who contestated the Italian school at the Liceo Parini, told Melchiorre Gerbino his determination to engage in new actions. He was well aware that he would be imprisoned at least for a month, since he had already received a mandatory expulsion order.
So we considered how to stage a spectacular action.
We decided to glue the document of the mandatory expulsion order on a sign and to write on the sign "Stay apart from me! I am dangerous. The police headquarters has sanctioned my awareness of a free man". When the sign was ready, Melchiorre Gerbino phoned two photojournalists and, on their arrival, Alfio D'Agosta left The Cave and walked towards Piazza Duomo, to perform the most exemplary action in the history of Mondo Beat. He was arrested, but at the Police headquarters they had not the courage to put him in prison, since the news of his action was covered internationally. They sent him by plane to Sicily, to his parents, but it wouldn't have taken a long time to Alfio D'Agosta to return to Mondo Beat.

The contestation by Alfio D'Agosta was the first event staged by Mondo Beat which was covered internationally in real time
Alfio D'Agosta performing the most exemplary action in the history of Mondo Beat.
Alfio D'Agosta's contestation was the first event, staged by Mondo Beat, which was covered internationally in real time.

*

On March 12, Eros Alesi, Ronny, Morgan and Cristo di Monza contestated the Police headquarters in Piazza Duomo. They hadn't received any mandatory expulsion order, since they had residence registered in Milan, however they could have ended in jail on the pretext of "resisting the police". These are the funniest photos from the history of Mondo Beat. Look at the faces of those who could end up in jail and the faces of the police. To perform actions as those of these youths, you had to have a great courage, because when you ended up in the Police headquarters in Milan, there were not tarallucci e vino.

The funniest photos from the history of Mondo Beat
Eros Alesi, Morgan, Cristo di Monza and Ronny contestating the police headquarters in Piazza Duomo.

Nobody knew Ronny's real name and surname. He was not assiduous in Mondo Beat, he often appeared and disappeared. As you can see, he was a very original boy. Before organizing this contestation together with Eros Alesi, Cristo di Monza and Morgan, he participated with them in the Rally to Contestate the Establishment.
Cristo di Monza, of whom no one knew the real name, attended Mondo Beat from beginning to end. He took part in all the events staged by the Movement.
Here a link to see Cristo di Monza and Tella Ferrari sitting outside The Cave.

*

On March 16, we learned from newspapers that Albert Villy Augereau was arrested and sent to prison

Albert Villy Augerau  was one of the notorious guys in Mondo Beat
The Mondo Beat Movement loses one of its best youths, Albert Villy Augereau

Albert Villy Augerau was arrested for the first time while he was with an underage girl on the runaway from home. He was then escorted by the police to the Ventimiglia border and repatriated to France.
But he returned clandestinely to Italy and, captured again in Milan, he was taken to the Police headquarters from where he tried to escape, barefoot and with his guitar. He was imprisoned for a month, then deported to France on a Milan-Paris flight.
He was one of the notorious guys in Mondo Beat. He took part in the hunger strike in The Cave, he was in the Rally to Contestate the Establishment, he was one of the six which have performed the first contestation of the Italian school at Liceo Parini.

*
This cycle of contestations ended with a poster by Melchiorre Gerbino, displayed on a window of The Cave.
The poster reads: ARRIVALS (ARRIVI) DEPARTURES (PARTENZE). Under 'Arrivals', there are the names of youths arriving to Milan from different cities they had to leave because of police mandatory expulsion orders. Under 'Departures', there are the names of youths leaving Milan, because of the same kind of injunctions.
More below reads: And The Stars Look Down (E LE STELLE STANNO A GUARDARE) and the date March 17, 1967.

Melchiorre Gerbino and Gunilla Unger in The Cave
Arrivals - Departures and The Stars Look Down


History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 9