The Roman Empire wasn’t built in one day, or so the saying goes. The same could be said of an effective resistance movement. After the initial spark, planning and continued action is required to keep the flame alive. For Peter Luntz, the mind behind Resistance Events Italy, that spark came on January 21, 2017 in Milan, Italy.
“I attended the Women’s March Milan, founded by Melissa Saucedo. It was an amazing group of people who gathered in Milan’s central Piazza della Scala in front of the Opera House and the Mayor’s office.” The participants of the protest included members of Women’s March Milan, which is, in the words of its founder, “a broad-based group of women and men from Milan and the surrounding areas who have come together in solidarity to resist against far-right politics on a local and global level.”
As Peter looked for more opportunities, however, he found that, more often than not, demonstrations and actions were taking place in Rome and not Milan. So he took matters into his own hands.
“I started Resistance Events Italy after seeing initiatives going on in different Italian cities and wanting to pull them together somehow. Inspired by Michael Moore’s Resistance Calendar, I started a resistance calendar for all events in Italy. I then opened up Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread the word, inspire and help others get involved with one another.”
With a framework in place, Peter began looking for opportunities to act. After doing some research into #DivestDAPL, a movement which aims to prevent the construction of the $3.7 billion, 1,200 mile long pipeline that will cut through the land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along the Missouri River in North Dakota, he discovered that the Italian bank Intesa SanPaolo was an investor in the project. Inspired by online campaigns against the Spanish bank BBVA led by Women’s March Barcelona and Madrid Resistance, Peter worked with Women’s March Milan and Americans Expats for Positive Change Italy.
to organize an online #DivestDAPL protest against Intesa SanPaolo for March 30. While the push for this specific action may have originated with Resistance Events Italy, the protest spread far beyond the Italian Peninsula. 17 organizations, including Paris Against Trump, Solidarity for Humanity and various chapters of Progressive Action, Global Exchange, signed an open letter to Intesa SanPaolo calling for the bank “to live up to its commitments to the environment and human rights by issuing a public statement to denounce the human rights violations taking place at Standing Rock and to withdraw its investments from the pipeline.” The entirety of the letter can be found here. For Peter, “getting other international organizations to sign the letter was key as others then had a stake in it and participated actively. It also helped create new connections and build relationships.”
By all accounts, the protest was a success. Participants left 100 posts and comments on the bank’s Facebook page, eventually drawing a response. Tweets targeting German bank Deutsche Bank also received responses. The distribution of a press release and open letter to more than 50 media outlets resulted in the publication of the event on a number of Italian media sources. Outreach efforts also secured support for the event from the Italian Climate Network and Greenpeace Italia.
Because of the success of the first action, Resistance Events Italy and its collaborators are planning another protest against Intesa SanPaolo for April 27th. The action will involve the publication of a formal letter responding to the defense provided by the bank during the initial protest. In Italy, the flame of resistance is alive and well.
*Image courtesy of Raffaella Isidori