It started as an awakening mood of weary impatience. In Naples it grew into an active defiance. Angered by years of Mafia violence, citizens even took to the streets in protest against extortion, drug trafficking, gang warfare, and a rising tide of brutal murders.
Trigger for this change in public attitudes has been the emergence of a ''new'' Mafia - or Camorra as organized crime is called in Naples. Shrugging aside ancient traditions of coexisting with (and corrupting) local authorities, the modern mobsters attack even the officers of the state. They have given new, young leadership to the old Mafia clans.
Eyeing multibillion dollar profits, the Sicilian Mafia has grabbed a large slice of the international drug trade, funneling heroin and other hard drugs from East to West, including the United States. Intent on similar gains, the Naples Camorra has entangled up to 90 percent of the city's shops and stores in its extortion network.
Now, at last, some ordinary men and women are beginning to find the courage to break the law of silence, or omertam, which for decades has hindered efforts to bring the gangsters to justice.