Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando said the Sicilian capital is no longer the capital of the mafia and it now seeks to be known as the capital for migrant rights and welcoming. In recent weeks, Orlando has led a revolt of Italian mayors against the Salvini security decree.
Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando wants to see a shift in his city from being known as the capital of the mafia to being known for its welcoming approach towards migrants, making it a "capital of rights, welcoming, tolerance, and culture". Orlando, who in recent weeks has led a revolt of Italian mayors against Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's security decree, spoke at a forum held at ANSA. Orlando personally signed residency certificates for some migrants who were in the country without a stay permit. "Now I expect Salvini to come with the army like he promised, and report me," Orlando said. "I'm not looking for a grandstand but rather for a court, where I can show that these measures are against the constitution," he said.
'We want to be the capital of rights'
Orlando said his position was in place prior to the current government. "In 2015 we approved the Palermo Charter, which provides for the abolition of the stay permit, a new form of slavery," he said. "We want to be the capital of rights. We are an alternative city to populism, or rather to those who think you can change everything right away and with a slogan," he said. Orlando was insistent about Palermo's change. "Before, the city was run by the mafia. Now, Palermo is the capital of culture. The mafia doesn't govern the city anymore. The formerly deaf, mute, and blind have opened their ears, mouths, and eyes," he said.
New York mayor tweets encouragement
Solidarity for Orlando's battle for migrants came from the other side of the ocean, in an encouraging tweet by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Stay strong, reject hate and hold on to the humanist values for which Italy has been known throughout history. New York City stands with you as you fight for the soul of your country. Avanti, fratello!" De Blasio tweeted.
To Mayor @LeolucaOrlando1: stay strong, reject hate and hold on to the humanist values for which Italy has been known throughout history. New York City stands with you as you fight for the soul of your country. Avanti, fratello! https://t.co/z0sttObxZI— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) February 5, 2019
Orlando responded in a tweet, "Your support encourages us to continue to defend human rights. We look forward to seeing you in Palermo."