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Putting Out Fires

April 18, 2018

After a devastating earthquake in 1981, foreign aid was poured into Naples to help it recover from the wreckage. These funds attracted the attention of the mafia, who gained some of them illegally and used them to expand their already growing presence. Since then, Naples, and more specifically a district in Naples called Scampia, has been plagued by an intense presence of a mafia group called the Camorra. Scampia has developed a reputation for mafia presence and the drugs, crime, and poverty it has inflicted on the region. However, over the last couple of years, the situation in Scampia has changed. The inhabitants of the region are tired and frustrated by both the Camorra and the reputation it has given to their home. They are angry and they are fighting back. Antimafia movements have been cropping up and gaining momentum in the city; nowadays, Scampia has the highest density of antimafia associations in Italy.


This photo essay is the story of three prominent leaders of the Anticamorra Movement in Scampia. Ciro Corona, Mirella La Magna, and Antonio Piccolo are citizens who are taking back their city. All of them have changed the lives of their community members by starting programs for the rehabilitation of minors, attracting children to sports, or promoting mental health through the cinematic and visual arts. They help without judgement, facilitating programs for everyone, be it a child or a convict. They work with bravery, fighting the presence of a violent group at a personal risk to their own lives. They don’t work without fear, but they do it with passion and resilience. Like Mirella La Magna says, no matter how many fires the mafia starts, she’ll keep putting them out. In the name of these efforts, here is to putting out fires. 


The Beginnings

“A child, a professor, a pen and a book can Change the World”, graffiti found in the Vele de Scampia.



First, a school gym. Then, a hole for drug addicts. Now, under restoration.



Baby seat found in the wreckage of a former drug facility.



Vele de Scampia is a housing complex built for those displaced by the earthquake.  Infiltrated and exploited by the maffia for drug trafficking, this complex has recently been cleaned out but is still used by squatters and the homeless.



Agents of Change

Ciro Corona, founder of (R)esistenza Anticamorra



Mirella La Magna, founder of GRIDAS



Antonio Piccolo, President of Arci Scampia



Their Effect

ACRI Football Facility



L’Officina delle Culture “Gelsomina Verde”



GRIDAS focuses on the cleansing of the soul through art and wall murals.



Laugh at Acri



Photos and word by Mahgul Farooqui, captured on a trip to Naples with NYU Florence in March 2018.


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