Role of race fought in murder of Nigerian man in Italy

CIVITANOVA MARCHE, Italy (AP) — Black Italians marched through a thriving Adriatic beach town on Saturday, demanding that authorities reverse themselves and recognize the role of race in the broad-day killing of a Nigerian immigrant.

A witness filmed the July 29 attack, which preceded the death of 39-year-old street vendor Alika Ogorchuku. A widely circulated video shows a man wrestling Ogorchukwu to the ground and strangling him. The onlookers shouted for the attacker to stop, but did not come to Ogorchukwu’s aid as he struggled to free himself, leading to public outcry over the murder.

Police arrested an Italian suspect, 32-year-old Filippo Ferlazzo, but immediately ruled out a racial motivation for the attack in the city of Civitanova Marche. Ferlazzo’s lawyer, Roberta Bizzari, said prosecutors confirmed that her client’s charge document contained the determination.

According to police, Ferlazzo first hit Ogorchukwu with a walking crutch, used by vendors, and followed him about 200 meters down a shopping street lined with high-end boutiques. Some accounts state that Ogorchuku praised Ferlazzo’s partner while making a sale or asking for additional change, others touched or caressed the partner’s hand.

City residents, led by law enforcement officers, have blamed an insistent street-seller for the death of a Nigerian man who is unfortunately struggling with a man with a court-documented history of mental illness.

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

People have left flowers and mourning notes on the sidewalk where Ogorchuku died, in front of a beachfront boutique closed for lunch at the time.

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

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

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

The role of race in the case is so alleged that a local newspaper, Il Resto del Carlino, carried a story about plans for Saturday’s march with a headline stating that the word “racist” was not used during the demonstration. Will go

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

Ogorchuku’s widow, Charity Oryakhi, has been reluctant to say that the murder was racially motivated.

“It’s just someone who is evil,” Oriyakhi told the Associated Press. “He wants to kill someone, I think so.”

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

The couple came from different parts of Nigeria and met about a decade ago in the Tuscan town of Preto, shortly after Ogorchuku arrived in Italy, and later in an apartment above a marble workshop in the small hill town of San Severino. Marche resettled in the area. ,

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

Organizers of Saturday’s march, who have lived in Italy for decades, say the race cannot be ruled out as a motive.

“The word racism cannot be minimized because it exists,” said Daniel Amanz, an activist based in Macerata who immigrated to Italy from Nigeria 40 years ago as a student. He said he thinks racism is 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 the killing of Ogorchukwu renewed a sense of fear among Africans living in the Marche region, which had begun to spread after two other racially motivated attacks: one targeting Africans in Macerata in 2018. A shooting spree by a far-right political activist of the bar in which six were injured. and the death of a Nigerian man who was attacked after defending his wife from racial abuse in the city of Fermo in 2016.

Ogorchuku used crutches because a year ago when he was on a bicycle, a car hit him, leaving him paralyzed, according to people who knew him. The family’s lawyer, Franceso Mantella, said that the street vendor continued to sell items ranging from tissues to straw hats, even after an insurance deal was struck with the job of Oriachi as well as cleaning a train station. Provided a little more financial security for

The widow said the last time she saw her husband was when he gave him a sandwich at the station before leaving for Sivitanova on Friday. She is haunted by the images in the video, and keeps the TV turned off at home so that her son doesn’t see them.

“I watched the video, when the boy was strangling loud, very, very hard, and my husband was struggling like that,” she said, imitating the strangulation. “The thing that hurts me the most is that people go round. They do a video. No one to help. I wish someone could save him. Maybe he wouldn’t have died.”

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Chinedu Asadu in Lagos, Nigeria and Gianfranco Stara in Civitanova Marche contributed.

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