African vendors were joined by thousands of protesters as they cried out against a “culture of hate” in Florence, Italy, on Wednesday, after a well-known Italian author opened fire in a crowded marketplace the day before, killing two Senegalese merchants and wounding three others.
Witnesses say Gianluca Casseri, who is white, fired three bullets into the Piazza Dalmazia marketplace, fatally wounding the two men and injuring three others before turning the gun on himself. Casseri was known throughout Italy for his fantasy novels and was a member of CasaPound, a right-wing community group.
Members of Italy’s Democratic Party called the shootings "a terrorist attack by a right-wing extremist.”
"What happened in Florence is the product of a climate of intolerance against foreigners that has grown over the years," Walter Veltroni, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party, told the International Foreign Press.
Immediately after the killings on Tuesday, about 200 African vendors flooded the city’s streets and chanted “Shame!" and "Racists!" according to local reports. Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi stood in solidarity with protesters on Wednesday. "The heart of Florence is crying today,” Renzi wrote in a Twitter message.
Later, in a blog post on his website, Renzi expressed that Casseri’s horrific actions were not a reflection of the city as a whole. He did, however, acknowledge that there was a “huge issue” in the city’s education system and culture that “needed to be fixed.”
“The opposite of integration is disintegration. We will not disintegrate,” he wrote, according to The Washington Post. “We want them to be a memory. Because in their death can be a seed of hope.”
Selling sculptures, trinkets and imposter designer handbags, African vendors are common on the streets of Italy's main cities. Many sell their wares illegally but are popular with tourists and local residents.
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(Photo: REUTERS/STRINGER Italy)