Two men were killed and three were severely injured today (December 13, 2011) in Florence, where Gianluca Casseri, a far-right extremist, opened fire on a group of Senegalese street vendors. After a verbal disagreement with a Senegalese street vendor, Casseri went away, then returned to the same place carrying a gun, and he coldly shot three vendors. Two of them, Samb Modou, aged 40, and Diop Mor, aged 54, were killed. Casseri escaped, and then reappered two hours later in the Market Square, aiming at black vendors. He shoots again, hitting another man at the exit doors of a restaurant. After a second escape, he enters a parking lot where he commits suicide, when police is finally about to arrest him.
Who were the victims?
Samb Modou, aged 40, and Diop Mor, aged 54. They were both Senegalese nationals. They both worked as street vendors. Their names and individual stories are to be remembered. Moustapha Dieng, Sougou Mor e Mbenghe Cheike, also injured by Casseri, are struggling for their lives.
Who was Gianluca Casseri?
A militant of the neo-fascist group Casa Pound and the founder of the right-wing fantasy magazine “La Soglia,” Casseri was not unknown to police. Furthermore, Casseri was immediately recognized as “one of our comrades” on a right-wing extremist website. He was labeled as a “hero” on racist forums, where apologetic and sympathetic comments started circulating in the immediate aftermath of the killing.
Shortly afterward, Casa Pound Pistoia tried to distance itself from Casseri. CP spokesperson affirmed that “he attended our events, he had presented his book, but he was a very private person and we did not really know him well”. He also remarked that “CP does not ask for a certificate of mental sanity in order to accept new members.”
The episode has triggered immediate and unanimous solidarity from the political forces and the institutions. The president of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, firmly condemned racism, while the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, expressed his solidarity to the victims. Meanwhile, the office of the Public Prosecutor in Florence expresses preoccupation not at the mounting wave of racism, but at the fears of new turmoil brought by the protest of “left-wing” activists and immigrants.
After a tense rally this afternoon, the Senegalese community gathered in Piazza Dalmazia for a public prayer. Tension is reportedly decreasing, but it is worth noticing that police charged at the demonstration, acting very differently from how it did in a similar situation 4 days before in Torino.
The Senegalese community also called for a rally this coming Saturday, spokesperson Pap Diaw announced. Representatives from the community have also affirmed that they had not perceived themselves under treat lately, and that the whole Senegalese community is now mourning and in deep shock.
Demystifying the myth of the lone gun
Whereas connections with armed terrorism are easily identified when it comes to so-called “insurrectional-anarchists” or left-wing extremism, the same zeal is not adopted when neo-fascism and right-wing ideologies are concerned. On the contrary, it is commonplace to dub such episodes of racist hatred and right-wing extremism as cases of “isolated,” unprecedented and unpredictable madness. Similar episodes outside of Italy, such as the neo-fascist massacre set by Anders Breivik earlier this year, or the Arizona shooting on January 8, 2011, have often been analyzed with the same perspective, rejecting any political label for anything that does not pertain to Muslim extremism. It is no wonder, then, that Casa Pound refers to Casseri as an isolated madman and that many are still reluctant to employ the definitions as a “neofascist activist.”
However, racist ideas are constantly gaining terrain under the lenient gaze of right-wing politicians (including prominent members of the Parliament and representatives of various political parties) and the indulgence of police. Only a few days ago, a gipsy camp was set to fire in Turin after false report of a rape (see previous coverage), whereas a year ago, in Naples, a similar episode was triggered by false rumors of an attempted kidnapping.
People such as Casseri, Brejvik, and Loughner are not lone guns: they are (or were) carriers of neo-fascist, supremacist, and right-wing ideologies that must be recognized and addressed as such.
– text [en] The Telegraph
– text [fr] Le Monde
– text [it] La Repubblica
– text [it] Global Project
– video [en] Local Newscast
– video [en] Analysis of the Facts, Interview to Iannone (Casapound Spokesman)