Naples beefs up se­cu­rity af­ter vi­o­lent at­tacks on tourists

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By John Phillips

NAPLES — Sev­eral hun­dred ex­trapo­licewere­as­signed­to­cen­tral Naples last week to pro­tect tourists af­ter two vi­o­lent at­tacks on Amer­i­can­va­ca­tion­er­san­dother­at­tack­son Euro­pean vis­i­tors threat­ened to scare off tourists, the lifeblood of the lo­cal econ­omy.

The mug­gings brought a tor­rent of crit­i­cism to Naples Mayor Rosa Ier­volino for fail­ing to deal with the south­ern city’s or­ga­nized crime gangs dom­i­nated by the Camorra, the Neapoli­tan ver­sion of the Si­cil­ian Mafia.

The is­sue erupted two weeks ago when Thomas Matthew God­frey, a young tourist from Utah, chased and­tack­leda thief who­had­grabbed his cam­era as he strolled through Naples’ pic­turesque Spag­noli quar­ter. As Mr. God­frey called for help, a pack of an­gry Neapoli­tans swarmed him, kick­ing and punch­ing,al­low­ingthe thief to es­cape.Two days later, the city’s im­age took an­other hit when a preg­nant Amer­i­can, iden­ti­fied only as Con­siglia G., was robbed by a man who punched and kicked her to the ground in the cen­tral Pi­azza Mu­nici­pio square.

Doc­tors said that the wo­man, 23, who is six months preg­nant, runs no riskoflos­ingth­e­baby,butth­e­as­sault led to fur­ther calls for more po­lice at the height of the tourist sea­son.

Mrs. Ier­volino apol­o­gized to Mr. God­frey for the in­ci­dent, and au­thor­i­ties as­signed about 700 ex­tra po­lice to the city cen­ter, many of the­marmed with sub­ma­chine guns, to pro­tect thou­sands of for­eign­ers, many on their way to the is­land of Capri, or head­ing for the an­cient ru­ins at Pom­peii and Her­cu­la­neum, the Ro­man cities buried by the an­cient erup­tion of Ve­su­vius.

The at­tack on Mr. God­frey “is an episode­that­struckand­wound­edme very much,” said the mayor, call­ing it an ex­am­ple of “a mis­un­der­stood sense of neigh­borly sol­i­dar­ity.”

“I asked the tourist to ex­cuse us, ex­plain­ing to him that for­tu­nately Naples is not all like that,” the mayor said, adding, “The net­work of liv­ing sol­i­dar­ity in the neigh­bor­hoods of our city is very beau­ti­ful, but in this case the tourist who was robbed should have been de­fended.”

Ho­tel owner Lello Iovine of­fered Mr. God­frey a free stay at her ho­tel, the Al­bergo Neapo­lis, if he will give Naples a sec­ond chance, while Leonardo Im­pegno, the pres­i­dent of the city’s Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil, in­vited Mr. God­frey to pizza and a per­sonal tour of the city.

“This was an odi­ous episode in which, un­for­tu­nately, the worst Naples emerged — that of blind and gra­tu­itous vi­o­lence. [. . .] The Amer­i­can­tourist­wasen­joyin­gour city, and hewas be­trayed bya lit­tle part of it,” said Mr. Im­pegno.

Some re­lief for au­thor­i­ties was pro­vided when a spe­cial team headed by the Naples deputy po­lice chief, An­to­nio Chiementi, ar­rested the sus­pected at­tacker of the preg­nant wo­man. Iden­ti­fied as Marco Aiello, 33, he was de­scribed as hav­ing no crim­i­nal record.

A num­ber of ar­rests also were made in con­nec­tion with Mr. God­frey’s at­tack. But­the con­ser­va­tive Il Mat­tino news­pa­per, Naples’ lead­ing daily, asked whether the mayor was los­ing her grip.

“Ev­ery day there is a dis­con­cert­ing episode even if, as in the case of God­frey,thosere­spon­si­bleeven­tu­ally are ar­rested,” said the news­pa­per.

“The real prob­lem is not re­pres­sion,whichallth­ingscon­sid­ered­pro­duces re­sults, but of pre­ven­tion.”

Naples’ po­lice force is se­verely un­der strength, as la­bor unions rep­re­sent­ing po­lice of­fi­cers have cau­tioned re­peat­edly, the news­pa­per said.

“In out­ly­ing ar­eas, es­pe­cially, po­lice­m­an­ager­shave­towork­mir­a­cles just to or­ga­nize a prowl car pa­trol. And­be­cause­ofthede­ploy­ment­toen­sure va­ca­tion­ers a peace­ful so­journ, the num­ber of oper­a­tive re­serves is re­duced to a trickle,” it ed­i­to­ri­al­ized.

The­news­pa­per­pointed­out­thatthe Amer­i­can wo­man first re­ceived as­sis­tance not from of­fi­cers on the beat but­fro­man elite es­cort­squad,which hap­pened upon the as­sault when re­turn­ing to head­quar­ters af­ter guard­ing a lo­cal politi­cian un­der death threat from Camorra gang­sters.

Twoa­gentsnabbedMr. Aiello and re­turned the wo­man’s hand­bag be­fore tak­ing her to the hospi­tal.

Arch­bishop Cescen­zio Sepe, the Ro­man Catholic Car­di­nal of Naples, on Aug. 16 dur­ing a Mass mark­ing the Feast of the As­sump­tion said prayers urg­ing the Vir­gin Mary “to lib­er­ate us from macro and mi­cro crime be­cause what is hap­pen­ing is not wor­thy of the chil­dren of God.”

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