Statewatch article: RefNo# 24936
Italy:Racism and fascism
Statewatch archive
Italy:Racism and fascism
artdoc April=1995

Campaigns against `nomads' - sweep across Italy

Florence

The civil rights group, Senza Confine, are to issue a writ
against Forza Italia MP, Umberto Cecchi, for incitement to racial
hatred after he wrote an article in the Florence-based daily
newspaper La Nazione attacking `nomads'. Cecchi does not seem
to have missed any group out of his amazing diatribe. Moroccans
are accused of running the drugs trade in Florence's historic
city centre; Bosnian women of being `whores whose every coitus
is a bullet cartridge brought for their Muslim brothers';
`miscellaneous Slavs' and north Africans had `taken to smashing
your car window and, if you are a lady, threatening you'.
Finally, Cecchi called for Gypsies to be prevented from entering
or travelling through Florence, and political refugees to be
removed from city centres. Travellers camps on the outskirts of
the city were little more than `a gathering of thieves and
prostitutes, muggers and rapists'. Cecchi's outburst came amidst
local campaigns against travellers camps and a directive by
Florence city council that all `nomads' who had not obtained
refugee status by mid-September would be removed. The mayor of
Florence, Morales, supported a petition signed by 22,000 people,
in favour of removing the `Gypsy thieves' but, in the event, only
500 Italians turned up for a demonstration against the `nomads'.
Prior to this demonstration, the authorities had promised to
expel the thousand or so Roma living in travellers' camps at
Olmatello and Poderaccio (Il Manifesto 23, 28, 31.8, 4, 7.9.94).
The mayor of Florence is also the subject of a legal action
brought against him by a group of Roma who accuse him of damaging
property and failing to comply with public law when a travellers
camp was bulldozed in 1992 (il Manifesto 23.12.94).

* In many of the examples cited below, the homeless can include
Roma, immigrants, migrant workers and refugees. The blanket way
in which terms like `nomad' are used makes it difficult to tell
if a particular group has been targeted for attack.

Villa Literno, Caserta

A fire, said to be started deliberately, burnt down the Villa
Literno squatters' camp near Caserta. Although the cause of the
fire has not yet been formally established, the press had
previously focused on the appalling conditions and illnesses
prevalent at the camp which has been set on fire on numerous
other occasions. The Bishop of Caserta had called for an amnesty
for illegals and the chair of the regional authority of Campania
had said that the only way to provide immigrants with physical
protection and a minimal level of hygiene would be to set up a
military camp.
Following the fire, the mayor and 800 local people from the
small town of Villa Literno organised a demonstration against
immigrants. `We're not racist, but we don't want blacks here'
they explained! (il manifesto 26.8, 18, 24.9.94).

Bergamo

The Northern League presented a motion to the city council in
Bergamo calling for the `careful surveillance of all suspect
persons and of those without residence permits or means of
subsistence'. Northern League councillors stated in the motion
that crimes damaging the image of the area were, for the most
part, carried out by travellers, beggars, and immigrants (il
manifesto 23.8.94).

Prato

Residents on the `Via Purgatorio', Prato, barricaded their
streets with refuse bins to prevent the arrival of a caravan of
Roma. The mayor, Claudio Martini, promised that the convoy of
three caravans and a number of cars, comprising about 20 people,
would be moved once an alternative site were found (il manifesto
31.8.94).

Torre Annunziata

Military police were forced to intervene to break up a mob in
Torre Annunziata who were determined to seize and punish four
Roma children accused of thieving. The mob, shouting `hand over
the Gypsies', stormed the police station where the<

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