In the end, the anti-fascist protesters in Macerata will still take to the streets on Saturday afternoon. The decision was made Wednesday in the late afternoon, at the end of a day marked by the momentous change of heart by the labor unions CGIL, ANPI, ARCI and Libera, which have chosen not to join the national demonstration against fascism and racism that was convened by the Sisma community organization following last week’s mass shooting by the 28-year old Lega Nord militant Luca Traini.
The common front was already crumbling on Tuesday evening, after interminable meetings. The positions of the social centers, the associations and the political parties drifted apart, divided mainly on organizational issues and on who could claim to have had the initiative behind the demonstration.
However, the disagreements still seemed bridgeable—until Wednesday morning, when the mayor of Macerata, Romano Carancini, of the Democratic Party (PD), gave what was clearly a deathblow to the unity of the anti-fascist movements. In a post on his Facebook profile, the mayor asked for all demonstrations to stop because—he claimed—there was “the risk of falling into divisions and possible violence, which we do not want.”
Empty words, seeing that just a few hours later, the leader of the ultranationalist CasaPound party, Simone Di Stefano, took a confident walk through the streets of Macerata’s center, demanding the death penalty for the person who killed and dismembered young Pamela Mastropietro. It was a rather surreal scene: De Stefano surrounded by a dozen young men backing up their tribal chief, among a swirl of cameras and reporters jotting down everything he said. There were no incidents, but also no enthusiasm on the part of any of the citizens. After all, it should be remembered that neither CasaPound nor Forza Nuova has an organized presence in Macerata.
Just an hour and a half later, Di Stefano was already in Ancona, his other campaign stop in the Marche province. His rally took place in the meeting hall of the local city council, for the renting of which the representatives of CasaPound had to put their signatures to the municipal regulations for the use of the space, which included a declaration of adherence to the anti-fascist dictates of the Constitution. We can thus say that CasaPound has officially repudiated the fascist period (on paper, at least) in the name of the electoral campaign. Just a few minutes before, the anti-fascists of the Asilo Politico (Political Asylum) social center had made a flash appearance in the meeting hall, sporting banners against fascism.
Carancini, a moderate in speech and deed and a standard bearer for Matteo Renzi, who even took him to Rome for the presentation of the PD candidates, is still trying hard to describe his city as a quiet oasis of bliss—as the photo next to his Facebook post, featuring the crowded Piazza della Libertà on the occasion of a food tasting, seems to confirm. It is all probably an effort not to hurt Macerata’s good reputation too much, since it is a candidate to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020, with the final decision to be made in the coming days. The shooting spree on Saturday is simply seen as bad publicity—leaving aside completely the issue of the six young men injured by Luca Traini’s fascist madness.
As a consequence, the national leaders of CGIL, ARCI, ANPI and Libera withdrew from participating in the march this Saturday, pointing to Carancini’s appeal, “however belated,” as justification.
Still, the four organizations which signed the announcement that they would no longer participate in the march are acknowledging that this is only a postponement of taking to the streets.
Meanwhile, Sisma decided to go ahead regardless, and they have confirmed they will march on Saturday. They had harsh words for mayor Carancini, describing his stance as “unacceptable,” since it “equates the plans of those claiming support for the terrorist attack last Saturday and the large manifestation of condemnation for what happened. In doing so, he is yielding to and feeding the climate of fear that risks holding the entire city hostage.”
Other organizations have also confirmed their presence in the city on Saturday, such as Potere al Popolo (Power to the People) and Baobab from Rome, as well as representatives of various community associations from all over Europe.
As the political intrigues were still playing out Wednesday, Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando visited the Macerata hospital, where two of the six victims are still being treated: 20-year-old Kofi Wilson from Ghana and Jennifer Otiotio from Nigeria, who was in surgery at the time of the minister’s arrival.
“I think it is right to express our solidarity with these young people, who were attacked only because of the color of their skin,” Orlando said. “A fascist has defiled our national colors, and I, as a minister, have to defend our flag.” After the hospital, Orlando went to the local courthouse, where he met with prosecutor Giovanni Giorgio and the head of the local court, Judge Gianfranco Coccioli.
His official visit will continue Friday, when he will visit Pamela Mastropietro’s mother.