Davide Zingaretti becomes one of the multiple victims of frequent intimidation and threats against local politicians. RiGenerazione Apriliana and City Council member, Elvis Martino, express their support.
By Giada Gavazzi / Contributor
ROME—On Sunday morning, Sept. 27, the 21-year-old town councilor Zingaretti reported a graffiti reading “consigliere cantastorie” (storyteller councilor) outside his home.
Zingaretti was informed about the graffiti by a neighbor who called him immediately after seeing the message when passing by early in the morning.
“I am angry more than afraid,” said Zingaretti in Italian. “Because if someone is involved in activism then he has to deal with this nonsense.”
Zingaretti filed a report to the police who looked for a reconstruction of the event through the public CCTV cameras installed around the area. The investigation is ongoing and information of the case will not be disclosed until the case is solved.
The young political movement RiGenerazione Apriliana has shown support for Zingaretti, who knows several of the RiGenerazione members and participates in various activities of this young movement in Aprilia, a Lazio municipality 31 kilometers from Rome.
The secretary of RiGenerazione Aprilia, Alessandra Addesse, said that sometimes these events happen, but they have to consider this incident also positively because, “it means that [Zingaretti] is doing something concretely, even on a local level, something is moving.”
Zingaretti is one of the 24 town councilors in Aprilia, but he is the youngest man ever to be member of the City Council. He was elected in 2018 and he recently joined the political party Azione (Action), known as a liberal and progressive national party. He stands in the opposition branch of the council, led by Mayor Antonio Terra, and he is politically active on social media platforms.
Aprilia’s City Council has two other councilors under 30 years old and three other councilors under 40. The average age of the council is 44 years old. Five out of seven assessors are under 43. According to Elvis Martino, the assessor of Education and Youth-Related Politics, those numbers are “a sign that the City is a fertile ground for youth commitment and is able to exploit the best energies.”
Martino, 31, said that the engagement of young people proves that they are aware of the problems the city may have, and “they strongly choose the path of democratic representation and daily work for the common good.”
Young politicians and political groups are very active on social media platforms and on a local level.
“These years I have always done my political activities in the respect of everyone, including the other opposing politicians,” said Zingaretti. “So I am having a hard time understanding what that [graffiti] writing is due to.”
The day after this graffiti was found, another graffiti in Roman dialect and with the same symbol was found near Sindaco Terra’s house, the mayor of Aprilia: “Terra, ridacce i soldi e paga i buffi” (Terra, give us our money back and pay the debts).
Carabinieri are currently investigating motives and the meaning of the symbol next to the message on the wall. The main hypothesis links both graffiti to the same person, according to Il Messaggero.
Both Zingaretti and RiGenerazione Apriliana suggest that both actions were done by young individuals, whose objectives are not clear, pointing out that Zingaretti and Terra are from opposing branches of the City Council. While Zingaretti stands on the opposition branch, which is constituted by multiple parties, Mayor Terra is the highest representative of the council’s majority, which does not have a leading party either.
The vice president of RiGenerazione Apriliana, Irene Locatelli, 25, said that it was probably done by a “malleable mind,” a young individual that was probably influenced by “adult voices.” Zingaretti referred to the incident as an inconsiderate gesture, rather than a serious one. Assessor Martino also considered the event “aggressive and cowardly.” However, he did not diminish what happened:
“We must pay the utmost attention to gestures of this kind which, seemingly harmless and goliardic, can, however, also lead to violent acts, from which our territory is certainly not immune.”
Locatelli said that this type of events frequently occurs in the local territory of southern Lazio. A former member of Aprilia’s City Council as finance councilor, Antonio Chiusolo, chose to resign in 2013 because of the numerous threats he received, including finding his car in flames outside his family home and ten bullets outside his residence.
According to RiGenerazione Apriliana, a visible contrast between young politically engaged people and violent young individuals is not unheard of in the Aprilian territory. Young people are either directly engaged in politics and social movements or completely disinterested. Ten years ago, the city of Aprilia inaugurated its Youth Council in the City Hall. The presence of this political organ showed even more how an increasing participating rate can be accompanied by an increasing apathy towards local politics. Locatelli said that this phenomenon may be the result of a closed mentality, while in bigger cities such events do not happen this frequently.
“It’s a dog biting its own tail,” said Locatelli.
Although RiGenerazione Apriliana regularly organizes meetings and proposes solutions to the various problems in the city, the group reported a low rate in the interest of the population, specifically young people.
“We are all good through our keyboard, at talking and at complaining, but then when it comes to local interest, no one is really interested,” said Locatelli.
In the last ten years anonymous intimidation has increased in other cities close to Aprilia as well. The Aprilian newspaper Studio93 reported an “evolution of criminal models” in the territories of Aprilia, Anzio, Nettuno, Ardea and Pomezia.
Two days before the graffiti that Zingaretti reported, on Oct. 1, Councilor of Nettuno Daniele Mancini, 45, found his car egged outside the City Hall.
Interviews translated from Italian by Giada Gavazzi.
Giada Gavazzi is a junior student and journalism contributor from Aprilia. She is majoring in Communications with a minor in Political Science. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.