An Italian man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a Nigerian street seller, whose beating in broad daylight was reportedly filmed by onlookers and which has sparked outrage and protests.
Alika Ogorchukwu, 39, was killed in the center of Civitanova Marche on Friday afternoon.
A 32-year-old man from Salerno in the Campania region has been arrested on charges of murder and allegedly stealing Ogorchukwu’s mobile phone.
According to Italian media reports, the alleged attacker responded violently when Ogorchukwu said to his girlfriend: “Bella, can you buy some handkerchiefs or give me one euro.” The man is alleged to have grabbed a crutch the vendor used to walk and struck him down, according to police.
The attack was recorded on several surveillance cameras.
“Witnesses will be heard and camera images viewed to clarify the dynamics of the beating,” said Matteo Luconi, chief of the flying squad in Macerata.
Hundreds of people from the Nigerian community and Italians, including Orgorchukwu’s wife, Charity Oriachi, protested in Civitanova Marche on Saturday.
The protesters were reportedly angry that those who witnessed the attack did nothing to intervene, instead recording the event on their mobile phones.
The killing was condemned by Francesco Acquaroli, a politician with the far-right Brothers of Italy who has been president of the Marche region since September 2020.
“Along with expressing deep condolences to Alika’s family, it is also necessary to reiterate the firm condemnation of an act of insane and unprecedented violence, which has no justification and which damages the entire Marche region,” Acquaroli said.
The killing was reminiscent of when Luca Traini, a far-right extremist, wounded six African migrants in a shooting rampage in Macerata in February 2018, weeks before general elections in which immigration was a central theme for rightwing parties.
Italy is holding snap elections on 25 September, which a coalition led by Brothers of Italy and including Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is tipped to win. Tackling illegal immigration and tightening national security are among the coalition’s priorities.
“It’s crazy to die in this way, I hope the penalty is the maximum possible,” said Salvini.
Vinicio Albanesi, a priest and founder of a welfare association, blamed the killing on “racism and anger that is vented on the most fragile”. He told La Repubblica: “We live in a distrustful region, where black people are accepted only if they do the humblest of jobs.”
Laura Boldrini, a politician with the centre-left Democratic party, said: “A man was killed on the street in Civitanova Marche with brutal violence, while witnesses filmed the scene. Father Albanesi is right: racism, indifference and anger find an outlet on the weakest.”
The day after the 2018 general elections, Idy Diene, a Senegalese street vendor who had lived in Italy for more than two decades, died after being shot at six times as he sold his wares on Florence’s Vespucci Bridge.
His killer was Roberto Pirrone, a 65-year-old white Italian who told police he had planned to commit suicide. When he could not pluck up the courage to kill himself, he said he shot the first random target.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism