A Young African Harassed and Followed in Via Etnea, Catania

From meridio news

Written by Salvo Catalano

A young man of colour emerges running down Via Etnea, swollen in the face, bleeding. Shaking and crying for help. A few seconds later, on the same street, Via Penninello, four white men appear. One of them topless. “Bastard of a foreigner”, they have time to scream before vanishing. These are the final moments of aggression swallowing up Tuesday evening, a little after 8pm, right in the heart of the old centre. A harassment which emerged from racial hatred, according to some witnesses.

“It was a horrifying scene” explained a street seller on Via Etnea, “the guy came running, shouting, spitting blood, his face all swollen up. He was followed by four people, one without a top who was insulting him.” The phrase to which she referred was indeed “bastard of a foreigner”. “It was really terrible” she continued, “ it had all the signs of being an act of racial aggression.” The victim is a young man in his 20s originally from Mali. He was described as a fit and well dressed young man.

Another women who was passing through that part of Via Etnea – a little after Piazza Stesicoro – towards the cathedral, recounted how she stopped to help him. “I arrived after a few minutes, he was desperate and the people were just passing by indifferently. The shops were all still open, there were lots of people around, but the traders themselves for the most part didn’t intervene.” After a few minutes at the scene an ambulance came and a police car. “But the guy was shocked” continued the woman, “crying, he felt hunted and refused to get into the ambulance to be taken to hospital.” According to some of the traders, the aggression had started in Via Manzoni, so the young Malian had managed to get down a side street and escape across Via Etnea.

After numerous attempts, the paramedics convinced the young man that he needed medical treatment. “He said: ‘four Italians assaulted me because I’m a coloured guy, I don’t want to go to hospital because other Italians might assault me’ “, reported one witness. A little later he went away by himself without telling the police what had happened. The same Tuesday evening, little more than an hour later, around 9pm, a homeless man was beaten up while sleeping beside his dogs in Piazza Stesicoro. An eye witness said that the aggressors were two drunk young men, of whom one was definitely a foreigner. At the moment it does not seem that the two events were linked.

Translation: Richard Braude