The mobilization against Italy’s so-called “decree on security and immigration” is growing like a giant wave, like a dust cloud turning into a mighty sandstorm.
Saturday will be a day of protest all over Italy, called by the ANPI, ARCI, CGIL and many other organizations, against Salvini’s security decree (“Decree No. 113”) and more generally against the government’s policies aimed at gutting the right to asylum, cutting down on migrant reception, criminalizing solidarity, closing the ports and the SPRAR reception centers, denying access to canteens, hospitals and benefits to immigrants and children of immigrants who need them, and trying to set up a second-class citizenship on an ethnic basis.
As the far-right government promotes these policies, a climate of hatred is spreading, and racist and xenophobic groups are marching on our streets.
Saturday is not a single national event but many local ones, some of them very large—such as the march in Ravenna called by the CGIL union, which is expected to have a big turnout, or the demonstration in Brindisi featuring the communities of African laborers and the “La Collettiva” transgender collective.
Some events are being organized as festivals that will take up the whole day, with street performers, entertainment for children and film screenings in Caserta and Turin. The latter event will end with a collective picnic at the Turin Royal Gardens.
Others will likely be smaller, but they will take the most varied forms, from rallies to town halls, from the “classic” passing out of leaflets on the main shopping streets to processions with banners led by local mayors—as, for instance, in Cuneo, where the municipality is participating, standing up for all the towns involved in SPRAR-funded projects—up to and including rally-style flash mobs with speakers and banners, like the one that will take place in Rome in Piazza Santi Apostoli.
Rome will also be the venue for a separate demonstration convened by the SI-COBAS union “against the repressive and racist policies of the fascist-Lega-M5S government,” which will start in Piazza della Repubblica at 2 p.m. The COBAS march is also connected with the major union strikes Friday and Saturday and stands in criticism of the government’s draft budget, which is “anything but redistributive.” They will be joined by the students from the Mamiani high school, who decided Thursday night to take part after they had been occupying the school’s premises for the past five days in a protest directed against the government’s policies.
The diverse mosaic of local initiatives that are part of Saturday’s national mobilization includes many other types of events as well. In Modena, the street event will be called “Con i migranti contro la barbarie” (“With migrants, against barbarism”), in support of Riace mayor Mimmo Lucano and against the discrimination against immigrant children in Lodi, organized by a local NGO called Bambini nel deserto (“Children in the Desert”). In Avellino, a “Festival of Solidarity” will take place at the church of Sant’Alfonso.
Many groups from the Catholic world have mobilized as well. The signature list for the appeal promoted by Saturday’s event, put together by Europasilo, the national network fighting for a positive development of European law regarding asylum, includes Pax Christi, Gruppo Abele and the Comboni missionaries, and even the Society of the Helpers of the Holy Souls. It also includes cooperatives, neighborhood associations, committees “for the defense of the Constitution” and feminist collectives.
In Lecce, what was initially planned as a small rally in defense of the right to asylum and in support of Riace has grown in terms of the expected number of participants and will now take the form of a march with colorful umbrellas, under the slogan “Proteggiamo la protezione” (“Let’s protect the [humanitarian] protections”).
The political parties on the left are also taking part in local events but mostly not in a centrally organized form: local branches of the LeU, Possibile, Potere al Popolo and Radicali will take part, while only Sinistra Italia and Refondazione have declared their participation at the national level. At the sit-in outside the Italian embassy in Berlin, the Brandenburg branch of the Italian Democratic Party will also be present. From the national leadership of the Democratic Party, however, we’ve heard nothing but a deafening silence.