The street vendor forced the unsuspecting friend to buy the handkerchiefs he was bringing. The case, which took place on one of the busy streets of Civitanova Marche, has sparked outrage in Italy and served as a hook for criticism from the far-right.
“Bella, can you buy me some scarves or give me a euro?”, Alika Okorchukwu is said to have said to Filippo Claudio Ferlazzo’s girlfriend last night while strolling down busy Umberto I street in Civitanova Marche city center. Silver – fair. The 32-year-old man was beaten to death in broad daylight when no one tried to stop the violent crime, due to the vendor’s insistence.
Videos are circulating online, videos recorded by bystanders, who did not try to stop the attacker, where Ferlazzo is seen beating Ogorchukwu to the ground. Images captured by surveillance cameras installed at the scene show the aggressor taking the crutch from the vendor, who was using it as support to move. On the ground, the suspect placed himself on top of the victim, squeezing her neck violently and tormenting her for three to four minutes.
Apart from the violence inflicted on the 39-year-old salesman, the assailant also stole his cell phone. Now in custody, Ferlazzo, who has a criminal record according to the Italian press, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter and robbery. Initially, the suspect told authorities he attacked the Nigerian man because he “made a comment” about his girlfriend, but later testimony suggested Ferlazzo attacked Okorchukwu.
Ferlazzo, through the lawyer representing him, has apologized to Okorchukwu’s family, who are bereaved of their eight-year-old son. The Italian’s defense alleged that he had undergone a psychotic breakdown, which led him to resort to extreme violence, and that Ferlazzo was now “confused” by his mental health problems.
Comparison with George Floyd
Hundreds of people, including members of the Nigerian community and Italians, demonstrated over the weekend in Civitanova and the nearby town of Ancona, demanding answers. “We want justice. Enough of racism against blacks,” they pleaded, amid outrage that no one had done anything to prevent the tragic outcome.
“Why didn’t anyone help him?” Alika Ogorchukwu’s wife, Charity Oriachi, in a statement to the Italian newspaper “La Reppublica”, issued an appeal saying, “I only want justice. Italy has not left me alone.”
Definitions of murder have led many organizations to compare the crime to the 2020 case of George Floyd, an African-American who was strangled to death in the United States. However, Macerata police spokesman Matteo Luconi explained that although the investigation is still ongoing, there is no evidence to conclude that the crime was racially motivated.
Even so, the Sant’Egidio association, dedicated to welcoming refugees in Italy, deplored the crime and called for an end to violence against migrants. “It was an episode that took place in a crowded street, in the center of Civitanova. There were people who recorded it, others shouted at the aggressor, but nobody did anything,” the organization condemned.
Crime drives Italian politics
At a time when the country is mired in a political crisis, after the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Alika Ogorchukwu’s death served as a target for criticism of the Italian far-right – which is poised to take over the country.
Polls point to a strong possibility of the far-right forming a majority in parliament, led by Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (FTI), Matteo Salvini’s Lega, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, but after the far-right parties came to publicly mourn the death of the Nigerian salesman, they often echoed Italian anti-immigration policies. Aimed at keeping them out of society.
After learning of last Friday’s events, Matteo Salvini lamented the death of the migrant and asked for the “maximum punishment” for the aggression. Antonio Tajani, national coordinator of Forza Italia, said he was “saddened” by what happened at the Civitanova March, which he described as a “always open, peaceful and welcoming” city.
However, the lamentations came days after members of the right-wing coalition prepared for election campaigning and posted social media messages about crimes and violations allegedly committed by “fake refugees” and “illegal immigrants”. While the parties have promoted an anti-immigrant policy and argued that strengthening national security are priorities for the future, many critics have pointed to the coalition, saying the campaigns send a message of hate that encourages this type of crime. Violence.
“Some political parties justify fear and hatred against those who are different. This is a danger we have to fight every day,” said Aboubakar Soumahoro, an Italian-Ivorian activist, trade unionist and sociologist.
On social media, several Italian figures accused Salvini and Meloni of spreading hatred against asylum seekers during political rallies. Enrico Letta, leader of the left-wing Democratic Party, spoke of “widespread indifference” to far-right leaders in a Twitter post.
As of Marche 2020, the Italian region is governed by the FDI, an offshoot of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI). Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s first far-right leader since Mussolini, recently argued that the country should “send immigrants back to their countries of origin and then sink the boats that saved them.”