Huge Procession Calls for End to Mafia, Remembers Slain Judge
PALERMO, Sicily (AP) _ About 100,000 people marched through Palermo on Saturday in what Italian union leaders called the largest anti-Mafia demonstration ever held in Sicily.
The march was called by the country’s main labor unions to remember Italy’s top anti-Mafia judge a month after he was assassinated in a bombing.
″It is proper that the people shout ’Enough 3/8‴ Palermo Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo told a demonstration in a Palermo piazza at the end of the march.
″This is the first step on a long road that must lead to the cultural, political and social isolation of every form of violence and abuse, of Mafias, however and by whomever they are run,″ he said.
Police estimated 100,000 demonstrators arrived in Sicily by plane, ferry, train and car.
″No to the Mafia″ and ″I Have a Dream: Italy Free of the Mafia″ read some of the protesters’ signs. Over the marchers flew a tiny plane carried a banner: ″Hope Doesn’t Die.″
The outpouring demonstrated a rising disgust with the Mafia in its traditional home, as well as the widespread grief over the assassination of Judge Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca, and their three police bodyguards.
Falcone, a symbol of Italy’s victories against the Mafia in the mid-1980s, was slain May 23 when explosives blew up a stretch of highway outside Palermo where his car was traveling.
The procession of protesters stopped briefly Saturday at Falcone’s Palermo home and left flowers and signs reading ″Falcone lives.″ Some sang ″Va Pensiero,″ an aria from the Verdi opera ″Nabucco″ that is considered a patriotic song in Italy.
The protesters also demanded freedom for Farouk Kassam, an 8-year-old boy snatched by a kidnapping gang on the island of Sardinia last January.