“It’s the Whole Earth Catalogue for politicos.”Wes “Scoop” Nisker, author of Crazy Wisdom
The Ya Basta Association was an organization of Italian anti-capitalists. The group is famous primarily for originating the tute bianche tactic. In 1994, the mayor of Milan ordered the eviction of protesters from the Leoncavallo social center, declaring, “From now on, squatters will be nothing more than ghosts wandering about in the city!” Protesters responded by wearing tutes bianches — white overalls — to reconquer the center. The meme spread rapidly and tute bianche blocs were a visible component of many subsequent anti-globalization protests. Symbolically, the white overalls were meant to challenge the invisibility of people on the margins of social life — the unemployed, the homeless and the illegal immigrants. Practically, the white overalls were often padded or worn along with shields made of plexiglas and helmets to resist the blows of police while the bloc marched through barrier lines and perimeter fences. Tute bianche blocs became a kind of collective protection force, marching in compact formations to prevent dissipation by security forces, creating a sense of security for protesters who feared injury. As a result, protester injuries decreased significantly, and police were forced to shift from a dissipation to a containment tactic.