Arts, Culture & Media

Shopkeepers defy extortion

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At this shop in Palermo, a prominent sign screams out in Italian �pizzo free market� above the door. Until recently few would even utter the word, but over 80% of businesses in Palermo pay the tax according to this anti-mafia group. The bill can be from $300 up to $14,000 dollars a month. This business sells goods from only three companies that are all pizzo-free. The mob hasn't come calling yet, but the business owner's family is worried about his defiance. This gelato shop also is pizzo-free. Until recently few business owners would've dared defy the gangsters, but the 1992 assassinations of two anti-mafi judges galvanized Sicilians. The murders made this woman into an activist and she's now one of the people behind the anti-mafia group that promotes anti-pizzo businesses. The group hosts festivals to educate consumers. Almost 300 businesses have promised not to pay pizzo, which leaves about 8,700 other businesses that are still paying.

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