Black Man’s Murder in Italy Sparks Debate as Elections Near

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Nigerian Embassy to Italy
Nigerian Embassy to Italy

Italy’s far-right coalition is distancing itself from the vile racism that led to the murder of a disabled Black man with his own crutch in northern Italy on Friday. Alika Ogorchukwu, a Nigerian peddler, was beaten to death as onlookers recorded the horrific incident in the center of Civitanova, not far from where a white supremacist went on a shooting rampage “hunting” Black immigrants in 2018.

The alleged perpetrator, Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32, says Ogorchukwu touched his girlfriend’s arm as he tried to sell them trinkets near the train station. Ferlazzo, whose political affiliation is not known, then chased Ogorchukwu, 39, down the street until he fell. According to multiple videos of the scene, Ferlazzo then beat Ogorchukwu—first with the victim’s crutch and then with his bare hands—until he died.

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Several people called police during the four-minute beating, but no one tried to pull Ferlazzo off Ogorchukwu. When police arrived, they arrested Felazzo and called an ambulance for Ogorchukwu—who was, by then, dead.

The incident comes at a time when Italy is gearing up for snap elections after the government of Mario Draghi fell in what is by now usual chaos. Italy’s center and far-right groups have formed a seemingly winning coalition, led by Giorgia Meloni whose far-right Brothers of Italy party boasts many of the same symbols as Italy’s long-dead Fascist party. Meloni, who is a regular at the CPAC conventions in the U.S., and who has invited her buddy Steve Bannon to speak at her conferences in Rome, is anti-immigration.

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So is Matteo Salvini, a former Trump loyalist who visited him on the campaign trail and who, when appointed Interior Minister immediately closed Italy’s ports to rescued migrants. He is now facing a criminal trial for kidnapping after not allowing several hundred people to dock. The other major player in the coalition is Italy’s long-standing statesman Silvio Berlusconi, who famously cut a deal with Libyan leader Muamar Ghadaffi to “close the spigot” of migrants coming from Libya to Italy in exchange for investments.

Immediately, those opposing this leading group have suggested that the murder of Ogorchukwu is directly linked to politics. Salvini immediately posted a photo of the victim on his social media. “You can’t die like that,” he wrote. “A prayer for Alika and a hug to his family, for the killer, sure pain to the end. City in disarray, violence by day and by night, we can’t take it anymore: security has no color, security must go back to being a right.”

The Nigerian Embassy to Italy has called for peaceful protests and a thorough investigation into the murder.

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