Milan - “Passengers are asked not to give money to the beggars. Gypsies: get off at the next stop, because you’re breaking our balls.” This message, delivered by a female voice over the Tannoy, was heard yesterday by the passengers onboard the regional 2653 train, the 12.20 from Milan stopping at Cremona and Mantua. Many were outraged and someone launched the story on social media.
Trenord opened an internal investigation which unearthed that the shocking announcement was made by the conductor of the line, who now risks sanctions that may range from a reprimand to a complete dismissal. Not everyone was outraged, however: there are some who are playing the incident down, like the Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini: “Instead of worrying about the attacks on passengers, controllers and conductors, we are worried about the messages against the beggars ... Safe travel is the priority!” writes the Lega leader on Twitter. “The staff of Trenord,” says the regional councilor of Lombardy Riccardo De Corato, “are exasperated by the continuing violence instigated by bands of drifters, immigrants and illegal aliens.” The claim was strongly rejected by Luciano Pizzetti, leader of the Democratic Party in the Chamber’s Committee on Infrastructure and Transport. “What happened is inconceivable and unacceptable,” he comments. “Confusing exasperation with racism is incomprehensible.”
Even on social media the Italians are divided between those who criticize the Trenord employee and those who attack Raffaele Ariano, the Milanese researcher who first posted yesterday’s incident on his Facebook profile: “I’ve been traveling on this route for years,” said Ariano, “but I’ve never seen a state employee take this kind of position.” On Facebook there are those who share his indignation, but many are insulting him. “Just bear in mind that this guy is a ‘professor’ and we pay his salary. Go home, philosopher!” writes Sabrina Trotta. “The usual radical chic of lost causes,” Alba Bettio increases the tone. And it’s no better on Twitter. “#Raffaele Ariano, wait till they molest your daughter, then we’ll see if you defend these people so much,” writes Pippobello. And of course there are those who have simply limited themselves to insults that cannot be repeated here.