In a country where extortion is common in some cities for simply parking your car on the street , the so-called ‘parking course’ struck a chord.
The Facebook page was founded by a group of activists from the Sicilian city of Catania who call themselves “Let’s Park the Catania Valets”. Several parking extortion incidents have made headlines there in recent months.
On their page the group says: “The time has arrived to say enough is enough.”
The spinoff Facebook ‘course’ , entitled “Course for becoming an illegal valet”, says the fees for the course must be paid immediately and promises to teach participants how to distinguish a revenue official from a police officer.
It also promises to teach how to park on sidewalks and pedestrian areas, and how to inflict rapid damage on the vehicles of those drivers who refuse to pay.
The activists’ campaign, aimed at fighting the “pizzo” or extortion on the streets, has intensified in recent months after several incidents in Catania.
An unauthorized valet, Youssef Miriniouy, 28 from Morocco, was arrested in Catania last week after threatening violence against a motorist who refused to pay €2 for a parking space in San Placido square.
In another recent incident a 30-year-old man was arrested by traffic police when a pregnant woman refused to pay him any money after she had parked her car. She was terrorized when he allegedly sat on the bonnet of the vehicle and blocked her from driving away.
According to local media, Mayor Enzo Bianco acknowledged the woman’s courage and said that co-operation between citizens, institutions and law enforcement agencies was “fundamental” in ensuring legality on the streets of Catania.