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Commission for Social Justice® Commends Columbus Citizens Foundation for
Sopranos "Dis-Invite"

Contact: Diane E. Crespy, (202) 547-2900 dcrespy@osia.org

Washington, D.C., Sept. 22, 2000 - The Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ) and a coalition of Italian-American organizations has publicly applauded the decision of New York Columbus Day Parade organizers and the Columbus Citizens Foundation for "dis-inviting" cast members from the HBO series "The Sopranos" from participating in this year's parade on Oct. 9 in New York City.

In a letter to Frank Fusaro, parade chairman, CSJ President John Dabbene expressed the organization's gratitude saying, "Your refusal to include ["Sopranos" cast members] in a celebration of our heritage is a huge step in the right direction." Dabbene further added that he hoped other organizations would follow suit, and not permit HBO and "The Sopranos" to use Italian-American organizations and events as an open forum and marketing tool.

"The Sopranos" is guilty of damaging the image and character of an estimated 20 million Italian Americans by using their religion, customs, and values in a violent and immoral context," read a joint statement by the eight organizations. "Actors who participate in this mass character assassination do not deserve to be part of New York City's annual tribute to Columbus and to the millions of Italian Americans" who helped make this country the beacon of light for the world.

The statement was signed by the Commission for Social Justice® of the Order Sons of Italy in America®, the National Italian American Foundation, UNICO National, The Media Institute, Bella Italia Mia, the Federation of Italian American Societies of New Jersey, the Italic Studies Institute, and the Italian American One Voice Committee.

On Sept. 10 during the Emmy Awards the coalition staged a protest denouncing HBO and "The Sopranos," outside HBO headquarters in New York City. Following the Emmys the CSJ released a statement praising the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for overlooking "The Sopranos" for all but one award.

The CSJ has been fighting bias in the media for decades. Instrumental in its fight is a U.S. Department of Justice study which found that a very small percentage of Italian Americans were associated with organized crime. Yet a 1991 national survey sponsored by the CSJ and conducted by Princeton-based Response Analysis Corporation found that 74% of all Americans believe that most Italian Americans are in some way associated with organized crime.

The Commission for Social Justice® is the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the world's largest grassroots organization of Italian-American men and women. The CSJ works to ensure equal concern, treatment, respect, freedom, and opportunity for all people regardless or race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or age. The CSJ is particularly dedicated to eradicating negative portrayals of Italian Americans and replacing them with positive, affirming images. For more information write to CSJ, 219 E St., NE, Washington, DC 20002, email csj@osia.org, and visit the CSJ on the Internet at http://www.osia.org/public/commission.htm