The Vigilante

The Atlantic has just published my dispatch from the Italian city of Oderzo, on a man driven by the death of his parents at the hand of immigrants.

The Italian City of Oderzo isn’t particularly known for its crime. Located a little more than an hour north of Venice on the wine-growing flats between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, it has a small urban center with clean cobbled streets flanked by well-lit arcades. On its immaculate walls, a tagger’s scrawl stands out like a scar.

So it’s a strange place to find a new program of citizen anti-crime patrols in action, the result of a controversial initiative by the xenophobic Northern League party.

Daniele Pelliciardi, the man who leads Oderzo’s patrols, hunches his shoulders against the last bite of winter. It’s just before sundown as he walks me through his beat. “Our work is to observe,” he says. “Everything strange that we’ll see will get recorded—from the Moroccan selling counterfeit bags to somebody purse-snatching an old lady.”

We haven’t walked more than a few blocks before I realize that the city’s initiative has less to do with anything about Oderzo itself than with the man who’s showing me the streets. The last major crime in the area was a brutal one. And it happened to Pelliciardi’s parents.

Read the rest.