Italy’s Racism Deaths

Soumalya Sacko racism

Is it really possible not to see at least some indirect hetical responsibility?

His name was Soumayla Sacko. He died on June 2, killed by a gunshot to his head. Soumayla was a 29-years-old man of Malian origins who lived in the tent city of Rosarno, Calabria. He was in a disused brick factory with other two fellow countrymen when a man got out of a car and shot four times, killing him and wounding his friends. This version has been reported to the authorities by one of the survivors, who also specified that the killer, a local man who was resenting their presence without owning the factory, shot them from more than seventy meters away.

Probably, there’s no need to use other words to describe this horrible OK corral scene. However, it may be relevant to provide further details, because the story of every victim deserves to be told. Soumayla had a regular residence permit and was an activist of the USB (Unione Sindacale di Base), a trade union whose purpose is to guarantee rights and dignity to the farmhands of that area, who earn two or three euros an hour and work twelve hours per day under the blazing sun. When he was killed, he was looking for some plates to rebuild the shacks where he lived, destroyed by the fire last January. He and his friends were trying to make their place better, albeit it was still far from being a decent one. Suffice it to say that most of the three thousand immigrants of the camp live there with no running water, electricity nor lavatories, surrounded by trash and mud heaps.

A widespread climate of hatred

Once again, such a context might be enough to make this story a real tragedy. But there is more. The new Minister of Interior and Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, few hours before Soumayla died, was in Vicenza for a rally and said: “Per gli immigrati è finita la pacchia” (“Fun’s over for immigrants”). While inciting hatred and intolerance against a scapegoat, he too often forgets that words are relevant. Because there is no fun in crossing the Mediterranean Sea risking your own life, no fun in living in a horrible place and no fun in being exploited for twenty euros a day. Words are relevant because these might involuntarily trigger violence, if addressed to exhausted people. This is why he should never have to use the misleading word ‘invasion’ when talking about immigration in Italy, as it carries with it distorted data only useful to an election campaign.

Nothing new under the sun

The situation is quite alarming, as Soumalya’s case is only the latest in a series of violence episodes happened in last few months. In February, Luca Traini, an ultra-right activist and former municipal candidate with the Northern League, shot around wildly from his car, wounding six immigrants in Macerata. When he was caught by the police, he wrapped himself in the Italian flag making the Fascist salute. The following month, a fifty-six-years-old Senegalese man, Idy Diene, died in similar circumstances, killed by several gunshots in the heart of Florence.

Italians first

In light of these facts, a reaction from the government after the countless cases of violence against immigrants should have been immediate. Instead, the first official declaration came only after three days, when the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte mentioned Soumalya’s murder during his first public speech in the Senate. “We owe him and his family a moved thought”, he said, generating a standing ovation in the chamber. However, credit where credit is due, Salvini anticipated him the day before with a tweet. The bad news is that he broke the silence with an ironic hashtag, #colpadiSalvini (#blameSalvini), referring to the immigrant protest taking place the day after Soumayla died.

Of course, what happened is not his fault. Nonetheless, we have to keep in mind that his party’s slogan is “Prima gli Italiani” (Italians first) and that he proposes a ‘backhoe’ as the solution to all problems and against almost everyone who could potentially undermine the country’s security. Then again, is it really possible not to see at least some indirect hetical responsibility?