Addiopizzo is a Non-Profit organization based in Sicily. This cultural revolution and volunteer-based, non-partisan association opposing the Mafia system, was born by a fantastic idea of a group of young people in Palermo in 2004.
Their initial action was to print an anti-mafia slogan on small stickers and to plaster the city of Palermo secretly by night bringing awareness to one of the main problems facing Palermo. Pizzo is Sicilian slang for the protection money that the Mafia manages to extort from about 80 percent of small businesses in Palermo and throughout the Island of Sicily. Addiopizzo literally means “goodbye pizzo” and the bold idea behind it is to cut off the pizzo-supply, which reportedly funds the Mafia with a substantial annual income as well as territorial control.
It was when the Addiopizzo campaign reached out to consumers, that it really gained momentum. By promoting an alternative economic system people can step out from underneath the Mafia’s control. This new economic system functions through brave business owners networking with critical & conscious consumers. Addiopizzo has unleashed the power of consumers which is now challenging the power of the Mafia. By initiating this, the Addiopizzo movement also brings to people’s attention that any consumer who buys from a business that pays protection money, simultaneously funds the Mafia. Many citizens and tourists are not aware of this.
The way it works is very simple. Businesses, restaurants, and shops that have decided to stop paying pizzo, stick an “Addiopizzo” sticker visibly to the entrance door of their shop. This communicates openly to the Mafia, that if they demand pizzo from them, the store owner will immediately report this to the police. The storefront sticker is a statement and a declaration to the Mafia and to anyone who sees it, that this business will not pay protection money, meaning financial contributions to the Mafia. This is clever as it also motivates critical and conscious consumers to support businesses who have joined the Addiopizzo network.
Today you can eat, sleep and shop in thousands of businesses who have joined the Addiopizzo network all over Sicily and other parts of Italy such as Calabria. The strength of Addiopizzo is based on consumers and sellers working together to weaken financial and territorial support for the Mafia. Check out Addiopizzo Travel here. Recently Addiopizzo has launched its online store to promote local Sicilian, Mafia free products as well as an ever-growing number of businesses joining this incredible network of hope and transformation.
The effects of Addiopizzo have been proven, as some arrested members of the Mafia confessed their work had been restrained by the Addiopizzo network.
“We are motivated by idealism, enthusiasm, anger, and pride. We are also aiming to create obstacles and difficulties for the mafia in key places of business and decision making within Sicily”. Addiopizzo Manifesto
Addiopizzo focuses on two main lines of work. For one, it connects a growing number of business owners who refuse to pay pizzo with a network of critical & conscious consumers who commit to supporting businesses who refuse to pay the pizzo.
In order to visualize and present the positive effects of Critical & Conscious Consumerism, Addiopizzo collects signatures of those citizens and businesses who have taken the step to be “pizzo free “. By doing this, Addiopizzo seeks to eliminate any isolation of those who make this risky and difficult choice and to furthermore encourage those who have not yet taken this step towards being pizzo free.
The second focal point of Addiopizzo’s work is School Projects. Assisted by legal experts, they organize outreaches in schools to offers legal education on how to refuse cooperation with the Mafia.
Addiopizzo continues to use the stickers as one of its key tools to bring their mission to people’s attention. The stickers are also available as online downloads so that anyone can join in.
Addiopizzo also works closely with government institutions and also takes care of the so-called Invisibles by organizing a yearly lottery. The income goes to charitable projects which support people who were strongly affected by actions of the Mafia. An example is a girl who fell paraplegic after involuntary getting caught up in a mafia shootout while she was on her way home from University.
For many Sicilians, Addiopizzo’s initiative is life-changing and offers hope to a growing number of citizens. Members also claim not to feel in danger by joining, as the growing network of Addiopizzo automatically strengthens and protects its members. When asked whether they feel at risk or in danger the answer is always ”No, none of us feel in danger. We aren’t heroes. We are only a group of people who love Sicily and we do what we think is right in order to improve this country for our children.”