By Jason Nardi, Ripess Europe

In a world riddling with injustices, it is really hard to acknowledge when some are perpetrated by the “public justice” systems of democratic states towards people who have sacrificed their life for the wellbeing of others, even if to do so they had to break some law that they found unjust. It’s the case of Mimmo Lucano, former mayor of Riace, a small town in the south of Italy, recently condemned to 13 years of prison for what we’ve now come to call “crime of solidarity and caring”: helping refugees and migrants find a place in an unwelcoming society and showing that it is possible also through forms of solidarity economy. It is not by chance that there has been a strong reaction by civil society in Italy and abroad, with demonstrations in many cities to “stand with Riace and Mimmo Lucano”. As networks and organisation that promote solidarity economy, we can only sympathize with Lucano and stand on his side to push the Italian justice to review the sentence without distorting the law with a political discriminatory act as was done in his case.

Jason Nardi, RIES (Rete Italiana Economia Solidale)

At any time of day or night
by Chiara Sasso,

The messages that arrived to comment on the sentence of the Court of Locri – heavy sentences, first of all 13 years and 2 months to Domenico Lucano – reported in the text the word “fear”. Repeatedly. Yet the day was clear, sunny, a September air with the mountains sculpted against the sky. But the news was too strong and the eyes lowered, giving way to fear. An earthquake that shakes deep certainties, experienced as a heavy signal of danger for everyone. Respect for the judiciary… We are witnessing the overturning of reality, the distortion of every procedural principle.

Among the most serious charges are criminal association, embezzlement and aiding and abetting illegal immigration. An iron organization is described to manage projects throughout the country. Those who have known and lived with Lucano, know that perhaps the only things organized in Riace were the games of cards, for the rest the distinguishing feature was the improvisation always on everything. And the willingness to welcome at all hours of the day and night. Maybe that’s why the Prefecture had a perennial red line with the mayor from whom it asked for immediate availability at all times. Riace was known for not leaving anyone on the street.

Convictions rained down on people, twenty-seven of them, with no general extenuating circumstances. Eight years to Cosimina Ierino. Perhaps many of us have seen another movie: Cosimina in the headquarters of Future City [the association created by Lucano to promote the “Riace model”], ready to welcome everyone in a babel of languages that mixed with Calabrese. Cosimina as an Italian teacher, as a handyman secretary. Her mildness struggled at times to make its way with all those impetuous movements of air, made of people, boys and girls, who arrived in the big room making the wooden floor creak. Always with some demand. Many of us have seen another film that nevertheless reappears in retrospective in our hearts and minds.

There is, in the headquarters Future City Palazzo Pinnaro, a small balcony that looks directly out to the sea. You get there by way of a grand staircase that leads to the second floor. One arrives thinking of being indoors, and it is like being on the Roof of the World. From the balcony your gaze goes beyond the roof tiles of many houses, the alleys, beyond the road with its hairpin bends and the crossroads for the sanctuary, until it meets that blue mass of salt water. It sweeps. Impossible not to feel the strength. The association Citta Futura binds itself to the world, looks ahead. It opens the doors, it invites. “Please come in”. As if the project actually belonged to everyone.

The association does well to display the manifesto of an Indian chief: “It is not man who has woven the web of life, he is only a thread”. Everyone who arrives unconsciously weaves something. How can one today make one feel affection and closeness to all those people who were part of that dream, of that film that will no longer be shown. What words to use to say that it was worth it, because it was a signal to the world.

It is one of those cases of life, on the same day in which we are waiting for news of the sentence, Thursday, September 30, early in the morning, a message arrives with a photo: it is dawn on the Ionian Sea. “Yesterday at midnight a phone call made me jump. It was the owner of a restaurant in Caulonia, he told me that a girl had just landed and that she was hungry and cold… I ran. A barge with seventy migrants was being escorted to the port of Roccella. You think you’re used to everything, after so many years, but you don’t get used to anything…”. It happens that the operators of the various projects live like this, ready at any time to face emergencies to take responsibility to always launch the heart over the obstacle. The same happens to the mayors who are in the front line on everything, fighting and making decisions on everything, fighting with their bare hands.

See also:

Petition for mayor Mimmo Lucano

Film sur RIACE de Shu Aiello, Catherine Catella  : Un Paese di Calabria

on :

– Livre: Utopía de la normalidad. Riace, el modelo de acogida de Domenico Lucano – Tiziana Barillà, Icaria Editorial, España, 2018

– De Giuliana Giorgi: Riace: ein Dorf zeigt, wie Flüchtlingspolitik auch aussehen könnte , 2018 and

Ein vorbildlicher Umgang mit Flüchtlingen unter Beschuss: Wird das „Modell Riace“ abgewickelt ? 2018

Plus message from Elisabeth Voss, NETZ:

  • “In our assembly 2019 in Lyon we decided to support Riace, the calabrian village, that is welcoming refugees since 20 years. Until now there was no possibility für cooperation in some projects. But now our help and solidarity is needed, because Domenico (Mimmo) Lucano is in trouble: “The former mayor of an Italian town who revitalised his community by welcoming and integrating migrants has been sentenced to more than 13 years in jail for abetting illegal migration and for ‘irregularities’ in managing the asylum seekers.” (The Guardian, 30.09.2021). It would be great, if members in their countries could organise some solidarity actions. For the communication with activists in the german speaking countries (and maybe also for contacts across the borders), Elisabeth Voss from the RIPESS-member “NETZ für Selbstverwaltung und Selbstorganisation” opened a mailing list (that was in former times used for the WSF-TE-exchange):