They don’t attend school and they sleep on the streets. These guys are immigrants’ born children in Italy between the ages of 11 to 16. Since last year, this so called baby-gang of 15 members have been terrifying Bolzano city. They have been beating up other guys their age, stealing and hating the police.
«They have incredible anger inside them», said Antonella Fava, head of the district attorney’s office for minors. «One time, they started jumping on top of three police cars, and they were screaming and mocking agents. It was difficult to ease the situation».
Most of them were born in Italy from immigrants that came at the end of the 90s from Pakistan, Morocco, Peru, and Albania. They come from families that might have hardship economic woes. However, they are being helped by social services.
The two oldest guys are the masterminds of the group. One has Pakistani and the other Moroccan origins. «Their parents don’t have any educational background in order for the upbringing their kids», said social services about the first kid, while the school vice president said that the second one was very lacking in school.
The last attack occurred on March 7th, when four of them with hoodies went inside a condominium’s garage to steal a scooter. When the police, at 3 am, were able to get two of them, one of the two guys attacked a police officer and escaped, and he was rearrested the next day. The other guy was brought to a rehabilitation center that he practically destroyed the facility with punches and kicks.
«There is something wrong here», said Giovanni Cipolla, the guys’ defense attorney that decided to quit. «We are failing because all what we have done in these months brought them even more against us. We don’t have the right tools to face this problem. I feel sorry for their moms, but i can’t do this anymore».
Often these guys gather at the Twenty mall with beers and Red Bull. They decide to follow a student from the McDonald’s to the Gutenberg Institute with a knife and a chain. «I am going to kill him», says one of them. Then, they hit him leaving him with head and other injuries.
The baby-gang already has 21 court procedures. Seven of these minors were already taken away from their families and brought to rehabilitation centers.
«These guys came from other origins, and they went to a different kind of school, before dropping off», Fava said.
«Another thing to consider is their behavior, disrespect towards authorities, and the fact that they are not afraid», said the pre-trial investigation judge. «Even the youngest ones in the gang spat on the face of police officers. This indicates a real danger».
In the Bolzano province, in 2015, there were 17.265 crime reported, with a decrease in robbery (-8.3 per cent) and theft (-14.2 per cent). That means 33.2 crimes per 1,000 habitants, which is less than the italian average of 44.2. So, this should be a quite peaceful area.
«They are immigrants of second generation», said Andrea Vigni, the educator of the Charlie Brown youthful center that closed a few days because of the baby-gang. «They still don’t acknowledged themselves in our culture and they lost the upbringing of their culture, and they are shaken up between different identities». If one tries to understand the difficulties that these kids are facing, according to Vigni, there will be less anxiety against them.
The mother of the oldest guy of the band works at the Bolzano hospital and she lives in the suburbs with the other two daughters. «My son changed in the last two weeks, he has transformed and I don’t know why», she said. «I am shocked».
«I will answer the questions in Italian», her son said to the judge. «I didn’t kick the police officer that was following me. He fell down by himself because of the ground, and i was running away because I didn’t want to go home with the police». He added that he is currently playing soccer and he ran away only one time because he was drunk and he didn’t understand why he got handcuffed since he was just fighting with another guy that didn’t let him finish drinking his beer. But now, he is in jail for the second time in the last six months.
«I have always asked myself from where their anger comes from and if there was a link with the situation in France’s suburbs», Fava said. «I6t is hard to say, but what hey have in common is that they don’t have paternal figures, and if you see them alone, without being in the group, they simply look like normal kids