Since his conviction on September 30th for 13 years and 2 months in prison, support protests in favour of Domenico Lucano, former Riace village mayor in Calabria, have multiplied in Italy and elsewhere. While "Mimmo" Lucano’s welcoming policy had made Riace and its mayor the symbols of an alternative society based on mutual aid, his conviction is widely perceived as yet another attack on solidarity with migrants.
Although the details of the Locri Court’s decision are not known - as it has not yet been made public - it is known that no charges related to aiding illegal immigration were finally brought against Mimmo Lucano. This judgement can be interpreted as the will to impose a policy oriented towards emergency management, neglecting the integration of migrants via the alternative and inclusive model that the former mayor of Riace made viable. It is possible that Mimmo was responsible for flaws in the administrative management of the scheme he set up, trying to adapt the limitation of the national system to a specific local reality characterised by a particular socio-economic conditions. However, when the Locri prosecutor called him an “idealistic western bandit", going so far as to refer to the Mafia, he was not only putting these irregularities on the same level as serious criminal offences, but also implying that the mayor of Riace is an enemy of the State, simply because he contested the non-welcoming policy implemented by successive Italian governments.
The conviction of Mimmo Lucano is indeed a political judgment. Because it punishes beyond what’s imaginable, an alternative model of society, of community, which goes against the policy that supporters of xenophobic sovereignty rights would like to impose.
The welcome afforded to exiles in Riace went beyond a purely humanitarian objective. Domenico Lucano wanted to demonstrate that it was possible to build a viable model of cohabitation in a difficult socio-economic context, in contrast to the state vision that only sees this question through the prism of assistance and exclusion, minimising or even ignoring the autonomy of migrants.
If Mimmo can be guilty of anything, it is for having defeated, through his alternative experience marked by an ideal of justice and equality, the logic of a State that discriminates and separates, that marginalizes and excludes.
Migreurop network expresses its full support and respect to Mr. Lucano who, through the courage and energy he has demonstrated over the years, has pursued no other objective than the achievement of a "utopian" project of social progress, integration and respect for others. The network calls on everyone to reject the alarming signal sent by the Italian justice system, which would have us believe that migration can only be thought of in terms of control and security. The network invites local elected officials to continue Mimmo’s action in order to create real "welcoming cities", bulwarks against the inhospitable policies of the European Union and its Member States.