Murder of black man in Italy sparks debate as elections approach

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Italy’s far-right coalition is moving away from the kind of despicable racism that led to Friday’s murder of a disabled black man with his own crutch in northern Italy. Alika Ogorchukwu, a Nigerian peddler, was beaten to death when onlookers filmed the horrific incident in downtown Civitanova, not far from where a white supremacist went hunting for 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 has not been clarified, 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, then with his bare hands — until he dies.

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Several people called the police as the 4-minute beating took place, but no one did anything to pull Ferlazzo off the black man. When the police arrived, they immediately arrested Felazzo and called an ambulance for Ogorchukwu – who was already dead by then.

The incident comes as Italy gears up for snap elections after Mario Draghi’s government fell into 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 has many of the same symbols of Italy’s long-dead fascist party. Meloni, who is a regular at CPAC conventions in the US and who has invited her friend Steve Bannon to speak at her conferences in Rome, is against immigration.

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So is Matteo Salvini, a former Trump loyalist who visited him on the campaign trail and who, when appointed as interior minister, immediately closed Italian ports to rescue migrants. He now faces criminal charges for kidnapping after not allowing several hundred people to dock. The other key player in the coalition is Italy’s long-standing statesman Silvio Berlusconi, who famously struck a deal with Libyan leader Muamar Ghadaffi to “close the tap” on migrants coming to Italy from Libya in exchange for investments.

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Immediately, those opposed to this front group suggested that Ogorchukwu’s assassination is directly linked to politics. Salvini immediately posted a photo of the victim on his social media. “You can’t die like this,” he wrote. “A prayer for Alika and a hug for his family, for the killer, sure hurt to the end. City in disorder, violence by day and by night, we can’t take it anymore: safety has no color, safety must again become a right.”

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

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