Recap: Saturday’s Little Italy Unity Rally
Dozens descended upon Little Italy at high noon on Saturday to show their support for the historic neighborhood. From the outset, organizers wanted to make it clear that the rally was an Italian American unity gathering, not an instigation against the boutique owner nemeses.
The route was essentially a church-to-church affair, meeting at the Franciscan Fathers Church of Most Precious Blood and marching northward on Mulberry Street to the St. Patrick’s Basilica at Prince. It was a brief fifteen-minute hike, and aside from one outspoken gentleman, the overall crowd was fairly subdued. Not much chanting, heckling, or violence.
Upon arrival at the 200-year-old cathedral, the mob was treated to some live music and oratory from the pastor and also rally organizer Johnny Fratta. His speech was more about Italian American unity in the face of bigotry than about the whole San Gennaro saga. It was a fitting platform to announce the nascent National Italian American Action Network to fight such injustice, and how this unity rally would occur each year as a show of solidarity.
Wellington Chen from the Chinatown Partnership also spoke, lending support to the cause, and to dispel incorrect notions that Chinatown butts heads with the Italian community here in the city. “A diminished Little Italy doesn’t make a greater Chinatown,” he said. “The day will come when the gondola and dragon boat [will move] down Mulberry.”