This year, in Palermo, Christmas trees send a strong anti-mafia message thanks to special decorations distributed around the city by Addiopizzo (goodbye "protection money"), the grassroots movement established in 2004 to build a community of businesses that refuse to pay "pizzo" – Mafia extortion money. The decorations state: "Pago chi non paga" (I pay those who do not pay), an invitation to consumers to buy from businesses that do not pay protection rackets and support the work of the organisation. The decorations (see picture above) are available in several stores displaying the AddioPizzo sticker on their windows or directly through the organisation.
As part of the Christmas festivities, Addiopizzo has also organized the first market with certified Addiopizzo producers that will take place in Piazza San Domenico in Palermo, from the 20th to the 22nd of December.
Addiopizzo was founded in Palermo in 2004, when a group of five friends who had just graduated decided they wanted to open a bar in the city but were concerned about being harassed by the Mafia and forced to pay 'protection money'.
The following day, Palermo woke up to flyers displayed all around the city that stated: “An entire community paying 'pizzo' is a community without dignity.” The city reacted in a positive way to the message and more people started to join the group.
The various campaigns of the organisation aim to create an ever-increasing network of businesses that refuse to pay the pizzo and to spread awarness among consumers suggesting to buy only from those businesses that stand up against racket and report extortion to the authorities.
“As long as somebody continues to pay the 'pizzo' we will not be free. Because if my baker pays the pizzo, I am giving money to the mafia even when I buy bread, and so I submit myself to the mafia,” one of the shop owners who is part of the network explained.
For more information, visit the organisation website.