HomeNewsRole of race contested...

Role of race contested in killing of Nigerian man in Italy


(AP)

Black Italians marched through a well-to-do Adriatic beach town Saturday demanding that authorities reverse themselves and recognize the role of race in the brutal daylight killing of a Nigerian immigrant.

A witness filmed the July 29 assault that preceded the death of Alika Ogorchukwu, a 39-year-old street vendor. A widely circulated video showed a man wrestling Ogorchukwu to the ground and strangling him. Onlookers shouted for the aggressor to stop but didn’t come to Ogorchukwu’s aid as he struggled to free himself, which added to public outrage over the killing.

Police arrested an Italian suspect, Filippo Ferlazzo, 32, but immediately ruled out a racial motivation for the attack in the town of Civitanova Marche. Ferlazzo’s lawyer, Roberta Bizzarri, said prosecutors confirmed that determination in his client’s charging document.

According to police, Ferlazzo first struck Ogorchukwu with a walking crutch the vendor used, having pursued him some 200 meters down a shopping street lined with high-end boutiques. Some accounts said Ogorchukwu had complimented Ferlazzo’s companion while trying to make a sale or ask for spare change, others that he had touched or caressed the companion’s arm.

Related: FG condemns killing of Nigerian in Italy

Townspeople, taking the lead of law enforcement officials, have attributed the Nigerian man’s death to an insistent street-seller unfortunately clashing with a man with a court-documented history of mental illness.

“This is not a racist city,” newsstand owner Domenico Giordano said. “This is an open city. If you behave well, you are welcomed and even helped.”

People have left flowers and notes of condolence on the sidewalk where Ogorchukwu died, in front of a beachwear boutique that was closed for lunch at the time.

Store owner Laura Latino said she has received negative reviews from as far away as Houston accusing her of standing by and doing nothing when she wasn’t there.

’’Be careful about judging a city of 45,000 people,” Latino said, adding that she thinks propaganda around the death was “ruining the reputation of the city.”

City officials have expressed concern that the killing would become politicized as Italy prepares for parliamentary elections next month.

The role of race in the case is so charged that a local newspaper, il Resto del Carlino, carried with a story about plans for Saturday’s march a headline stating that “the word racism” would not be used during the demonstration.

But a manifesto for the event, billed as the the country’s first to be organized by Black Italians, lists the recognition of the role of race in what happened to Ogorchukwu as the first of 11 demands. Some 30 organizations said they would seek to join the prosecution as a civil complainant on behalf of “racialized people.”

Ogorchukwu’s widow, Charity Oriakhi, is reluctant to say the killing was racially motivated.

“It is just someone who is wicked,” Oriakhi told The Associated Press. “He wants to kill someone, that is what I feel.”

She said both she and her husband had always felt welcome in Italy and that he never recounted having negative interactions when he was out selling. In fact, she said, he often came home with gifts from Italians for the couple’s 8-year-old son.

The pair hailed from different parts of Nigeria and met in the Tuscan town of Prato about a decade ago, shortly after Ogorchukwu’s arrival in Italy, and later resettled in the Marche region in an apartment above a marble workshop in the small hillside town of San Severino.

The Nigerian government has condemned Ogorchukwu’s death, and the West African nation’s Foreign Affairs Ministry urged Italian authorities to “bring the perpetrator of the heinous act to book without delay.”

Nigerians who have lived in Italy for decades and organizers of Saturday’s march say race cannot be excluded as a motive.

“The word racism cannot be minimized because it exists,” said Daniel Amanze, an activist based in Macerata who arrived in Italy from Nigeria as a student 40 years ago. He said he perceived racism becoming more “obvious” in recent years as some politicians scapegoat immigrants as cover “for their poor administration and the malaise you see every day.”

Amanze said Ogorchukwu’s killing renewed a sense of fear among Africans living in the Marche region that had started to dissipate following two other racially motivated attacks: a 2018 shooting spree by a one-time far-right political activist targeting Africans in Macerata that wounded six, and the death of a Nigerian man who was attacked after defending his wife from racial abuse in the town of Fermo in 2016.

Ogorchukwu used a crutch because a car struck him while he was on a bicycle a year ago, leaving him with a limp, according to people who knew him. The family’s lawyer, Franceso Mantella, said the street vendor continued to hawk wares, from tissues to straw hats, even after an insurance settlement provided a bit more financial security along with Oriakhi’s job cleaning a train station.

The widow said she last saw her husband when he gave her a sandwich at the station before he he set out for Civitanova the Friday he died. She is haunted by the images on the video, and keeps the TV at home off so her son doesn’t see them.

“I saw the video, just when the boy was strangling hard, very, very hard, and my husband was struggling like this,” she said, mimicking the stranglehold. “What hurts me most, is there are people circled. They do a video. No one to help. I wish someone rescued him. Maybe he would not be dead.”

- A word from our sponsors -

spot_img

Most Popular

More from Author

NDA trains Army Cadets 69 Regular Course to fight insecurity

From Gyang Bere, JosThe Director Military Training, Nigerian Defence Academy,...

3 killed, properties destroyed as politicians fight over election funds

From Lateef Dada, OsogboLeftover funds for the July 16 governorship...

Bangladesh announces fuel price jump, stokes inflation fears

(Reuters)Bangladesh raised fuel prices by around 50% on Saturday, a...

Why Kenya’s presidential election is important

(AP)Kenyans are voting Tuesday to choose a successor to President...

- A word from our sponsors -

spot_img

Read Now

NDA trains Army Cadets 69 Regular Course to fight insecurity

From Gyang Bere, JosThe Director Military Training, Nigerian Defence Academy, Brigadier Gen. Emmanuel Emekah said the NDA has modified its training curriculum to tackle the current security challenges in the country.Gen. Emekah disclosed this on Saturday during the Adventure Training Exercise for Army Cadets of 69...

3 killed, properties destroyed as politicians fight over election funds

From Lateef Dada, OsogboLeftover funds for the July 16 governorship election have caused chaos in Ede, the hometown of the Osun Governor-Elect, Ademola Adeleke, with three people killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.The crisis broke on Friday during a meeting held at the party...

Bangladesh announces fuel price jump, stokes inflation fears

(Reuters)Bangladesh raised fuel prices by around 50% on Saturday, a move that will trim the country’s subsidy burden but put more pressure on inflation that is already running above 7%.The South Asian country’s $416 billion economy has been one of the fastest-growing in the world for...

Why Kenya’s presidential election is important

(AP)Kenyans are voting Tuesday to choose a successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. The race is close and could go to a runoff for the first time.One top candidate is Raila Odinga, an opposition leader in his fifth run for the presidency...

Road to 2023: Tinubu’s track record as governor anticipates his performance as president

From Priscilla Ediare, Ado EkitiThe National Chairman of the South West Agenda (SWAGA) 2023, and former minister of works, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, has said the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate for the 2023 election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the best man to take over...

Abiodun fires back at Amosun, says he won’t be distracted by ex-governor

From Laide Raheem, AbeokutaOgun State Governor Dapo Abiodun has said that the state “is not anybody’s father’s inheritance”, apparently responding to a statement credited to his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, that the 2019 governorship election was rigged in favour of the incumbent governor.Governor Abiodun said that...

Road to 2023: Tinubu’s track record as Lagos governor points to his performance president

From Priscilla Ediare, Ado EkitiThe National Chairman of the South West Agenda (SWAGA) 2023, and former minister of works, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, has said the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate for the 2023 election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the best man to take over...

Police kill notorious Imo armed robber ‘Shina Rambo’

From Stanley Uzoaru, OwerriThe Imo State Police Command says it has killed a notorious robbery kingpin, Osita Ogbuiri, popularly known as ‘Shina Rambo’, from Mmahu in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State penultimate week.Ogbuiri, an escapee of the Imo prison, according to a statement by...

No rift with my predecessor

From Femi Folaranmi, YenagoaGovernor Douye Diri has denied a rift with his predecessor, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson. Diri, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabarah, accused some unnamed persons of trying hard to cause friction between himself and Senator Dickson.He noted that he...

Delta 2023: PDP members working with us to deliver Omo-Agege

From Paul Osuyi, AsabaFormer Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godsday Orubebe has disclosed that some members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State were working for the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.Orubebe, who dumped the PDP a...

Izombe community accuses police of invasion

From George Onyejiuwa, OwerriThe Izombe community in the Oguta council area of Imo state have lamented the willful invasion of the community which has led to the burning and looting of shops, as well as innocent persons sustaining both bullet and machete, cut injuries.Recall that gunmen...

OBA to run with Amba in YPP

From Joe Effiong, UyoThe gubernatorial candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Akwa Ibom State, Senator (Obong) Bassey Albert Akpan, has named a retired assistant inspector general of police, Mr Asuquo Amba, as his running mate in the 2023 election.The brief ceremony which took place...