Europe

Italian priest denounces mafia threats as cowardly

Rosetta Marino widow of Antonino, a Carabiniere officer killed in 1990, wears a T-shirt reading "I'm proud to have married a cop" during an anti mafia march in Locri,  a base of the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate in Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. On the eve of Tuesday's protest, vandals scrawled graffiti in the mafia stronghold of Locri calling Don Luigi Ciotti, a leading anti-mafia crusader, a cop and demanding "More work, fewer cops." (Marco Costantino/ANSA via AP)

Rosetta Marino widow of Antonino, a Carabiniere officer killed in 1990, wears a T-shirt reading "I'm proud to have married a cop" during an anti mafia march in Locri, a base of the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate in Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. On the eve of Tuesday's protest, vandals scrawled graffiti in the mafia stronghold of Locri calling Don Luigi Ciotti, a leading anti-mafia crusader, a cop and demanding "More work, fewer cops." (Marco Costantino/ANSA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

An anti-mafia priest campaigner has kicked off a day of national protest against organized crime, urging Italians to resist the mob and denouncing recent threats against him as cowardly.

On the eve of Tuesday's protest, vandals scrawled graffiti in the mafia stronghold of Locri calling Don Luigi Ciotti a cop and demanding "more work, fewer cops." The graffiti was viewed as a threat to Ciotti and a challenge to the state.

Ciotti headlined the main protest Tuesday in Locri, saying he was proud to be called a cop and denouncing the anonymous threat as a "sign of a lack of courage." He praised Italy's police as professionals dedicated to protecting ordinary citizens.

Locri, in southern Reggio Calabria, is a stronghold of the 'ndrangheta mob, one of Italy's most powerful.