Early in the morning on August 29, 1991, on the quiet streets of Palermo, Sicily the owner of a local lingerie manufacturer was gunned down in cold blood. Libero Grassi owned a business that employed about 100 people and was a pillar of the local community in Palermo. As his business grew, Grassi came to the attention of local organized crime, the notorious Mafia. The Sicilian Mob came knocking on Grassi’s door and demanded pizzo, protection money. Paying this sum to avoid trouble with the Mafia had been the local tradition, but Grassi was having none of it. He refused to pay. Not only that, he made his struggle with the “nonexistent” organization public. Grassi wrote to Italian newspapers about his experience and told the police about his encounters. Not long after he started publicizing the shakedown, Grassi was killed by Salvatore Madonia, son of Mafia Boss Francesco Madonia, the head of the Resuttana family. Both men were convicted in 2006 after Grassi’s death turned him into a hero in the anti-Mafia movement in Sicily and encouraged other business owners to stand up to the Mafia.
Featured Image: “Libero Grassi.” By unknown – Libero Grassi e Tano Grasso.
Source: Salerno, Vincenzo. “Remembering Libero Grassi.” Best of Sicily Magazine.