Marchers protest racism in Italy af­ter Africans are shot

South Florida Times - - NATION - By FRANCES D'EMILIO

ROME – Marchers protested racism Satur­day in sev­eral Ital­ian cities and warned against a re­vival of neo-fas­cist sen­ti­ment amid the campaign for Italy's March 4 na­tional elec­tion.

In Mac­er­ata, a city in cen­tral Italy where a week ago a far-right gun­man with neo-Nazi sym­pa­thies wounded six African mi­grants in a drive-by shoot­ing, there were fears the march could trig­ger vi­o­lence. The march by sev­eral thou­sand peo­ple was peace­ful.

Anti-fas­cist, anti-racism marchers also turned out in Mi­lan, Turin, Rome and Palermo, Si­cily, among other cities.

In Pi­a­cenza, a small city in north­ern Italy, some anti-fas­cism demon­stra­tors hurled cob­ble­stones at po­lice and clashed with of­fi­cers as they protested the open­ing of a lo­cal head­quar­ters for a far-right po­lit­i­cal group, Sky TG24 TV and the ANSA news agency re­ported.

Italy's elec­tion campaign has been marked by ris­ing ten­sions over the coun­try's mi­grant pop­u­la­tion, which in the last few years has swelled by sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand peo­ple, many of them Africans. Sur­veys in­di­cate that many Ital­ians blame im­mi­grants for vi­o­lent crime. Lead­ers of a cen­ter-right campaign al­liance, in­clud­ing for­mer Premier Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni and an­timi­grant League leader Mat­teo Salvini, have pledged to quickly de­port huge num­bers of the mi­grants if they win power.

Salvini ham­mered away Satur­day at the mi­grants-bring-vi­o­lent-crime mo­tif.

ANSA quoted him as telling a campaign rally in north­ern Italy that he couldn't wait for a March 4 elec­tion vic­tory “to start ex­pelling all the il­le­gals one by one, to de­fend, above all, the women, the girls'' who al­legedly fear sex­ual as­sault by mi­grants.

In Mac­er­ata, the sus­pected gun­man, Luca Traini, was ar­rested for the Feb. 3 shoot­ings that tar­geted African mi­grants. The 28-year-old Ital­ian was a for­mer un­suc­cess­ful can­di­date for Salvini's party. He has told au­thor­i­ties he had been an­gered by the death of an 18-year-old Ital­ian woman whose dis­mem­bered body was found in two suit­cases.

Mac­er­ata prose­cu­tors said Satur­day that pre­lim­i­nary au­topsy re­sults in­di­cated the woman, who had walked away from a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter, had been likely mur­dered and not died from a drug over­dose. They said four Nige­ri­ans, in­clud­ing a lo­cal drug dealer, are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in her death.

Among Mac­er­ata's marchers on Satur­day was Ce­cile Kyenge, a for­mer Ital­ian in­te­gra­tion min­is­ter and a na­tive of Africa. She said march­ing was a way to protest “the hate that is di­vid­ing our coun­try.''

PHOTO COURTESY OF YOUTUBE.COM

A Nazi sym­pa­thizer shot six Africans in Italy, which sparked protests.

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