"Where do you take these bastards"

While reporting on the 8 January 2010, in Rosarno about the demonstrations of African citizen after the shooting of two Ghanaians, I was attacked myself by Italians apparently because I was carrying some Africans to their camp before leaving Rosarno. After what happened I think that Italy’s has lost control of Rosarno for a longtime.

This is what happened.

I was in Rosarno from 8 in the morning (Friday 8 January) while the demonstration was heading to the Rosarno town hall. The situation was already tense and the police was patrolling every movement of the Africans, after two of them the night before have been shot apparently for no reason. Around midday the situation seemed returning to calm again. I would soon discovered that I was wrong.

Before saying goodbye to some African citizen I know, I decided to carry some of them to their camp from the train station. After less than a minute driving, I stopped in front a group made by Carabinieri (Italian police) and supposedly local residents.

These people, probably from Rosarno, as they saw me with blacks in my car, shouted: “Where do you take these bastards”. One of them even manage to open my door. Luckily for me one of the Carabinieri is very quick pushing this person very far away from the car so I can lock all doors of the car. 

After this there is less than a minute of violence where police and locals fight eachother while I was trying to get the rear gear and go away from that situation that seemed like hell.

As that side of the main road was blocked, I was forced to take them to the other main camp of Rosarno where usually French speaking Africans used to survive up until yesterday as they are now taken away from Rosarno. This camp is called “La Rognetta”.

It is there that there were police patrols, cars and vans about to close the road to protect Africans from the assaults of the locals. I would spend the whole afternoon there.

Some citizen of Rosarno, who asked me to stay anonymous, said that the Africans are the racist one because, even though locals have always been very generous with them, they reacted with violence marching in the streets and smashing cars, shops, forcing business activities to close. They even smashed cars while moms with kids were inside. Some of these people were seen getting out of the cars with nose bleeding and terrorised, as they stated. 

By their point of view, since years that they come and go to and from Rosarno there is a “caporalato” going on between Africans. Some of them ask money to other Africans in order to get jobs. This is why they take jobs from local Italians because they accept inhuman conditions of living and work. “There are Africans – a man on his fifties who wants to stay anonymous said – who asks other Africans 5 euros per day in order to get a job. Do you have an idea how much money this persons can get, as there are thousands of Africans there?”

I believe that as the media attention will fade on Rosarno, the life of the inhabitants will go back to normal so the known criminal activities will go back to “business as usual”.

Piervincenzo Canale

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