Alika Ogorchukwu, Nigerian Man, Killed on the Street in Italy
Protests have erupted across Italy following the murder of Alika Ogorchukwu, a 39-year-old Nigerian man after he was assaulted and strangled by Filippo Ferlazzo.
On Saturday, August 6th, hundreds of people marched in central Italy to demand justice for Ogorchukwu. The attack, as well as an unrelated assault of a Nigerian woman named Beauty Davis, who was slapped across the face by the restaurant owner for requesting to be paid fairly, has led to discussions on race and caused many to take to the streets in protest of racism in Italy.
The fatal incident took place on Friday, July 29th in the Italian seaside town of Civitanova Marche. The assault took place on a busy street, in broad daylight, and with several bystanders watching and filming the incident on their phones.
According to reports, Ogorchukwu was a disabled street vendor who approached Ferlazzo and his girlfriend while they were in their car, in an effort to advertise and sell his goods. As Ogorchukwu walked away from the Italian couple’s car, Ferlazzo followed him and went on to assault and strangle him for about four minutes until he died.
Ogorchukwu’s crutch, which he used since he was hit by a car in 2021, was used to attack him by Ferlazzo. The murder of Ogorchukwu caused shock and outrage for its brutality and the fact that members of the public did not intervene.
While video footage of the incident has been shared on several media platforms, there has not been much news coverage, with many suspecting the upcoming elections in Italy as a reason to keep the story low.
“Let’s condemn the fact itself and the behavior of people who stood by and watched a disabled person get killed with a crutch and filmed it, instead of intervening, it is shameful,” said Patrick Guobadia, the vice secretary of a group representing Nigerians in Italy. “This indifference is frightening,” he said. People from the community of Civitanova have held protests against Ogorchukwu’s murder.
Ogorchukwu is survived by his wife, Charity Oriachi, and his son. As someone who has tragically lost her husband, Oriachi was naturally distraught. In an interview with local news, she said “The pain is too much for me, I need justice,” she said. “I need justice.”
Oriachi met Fabrizio Ciarapica, the mayor of Civitanova Marche, on Saturday, July 30th. On the following day, it was announced that the town’s municipality would assist Ogorchukwu’s family with funds for the funeral as well as open a bank account for donations.
Ciarapica’s office released a statement in which he said he would do his best to “protect the image and values of Civitanova”. Mr. Ciarapica continued in the statement, “The community is always ready to extend a hand to those in need.”
Mr. Ogorchukwu’s alleged killer, Filippo Ferlazzo, is a factory worker. He is charged with murder and robbery for stealing Ogorchukwu’s phone. His lawyer, Roberta Bizzarri, alleges that Ferlazzo suffers from a mental disorder.
Still on the death of Alika Ogorchukwu…
Bizzarri added that the killing of Ogorchukwu had nothing to do with racism, an opinion which was repeated by Matteo Luconi, who is the chief police investigator. Luconi said the investigation has not revealed any “elements of racial hatred,” saying Ogorchukwu was attacked because he provoked Ferlazzo by asking for handouts.
The murder of Ogorchukwu in Civitanova Marche is haunting for migrants as it serves as a reminder of the history of assaults and murders of migrants in that region of Italy.
In February 2018, an Italian man shot and wounded six African immigrants in Macerata, a town 19 miles from Civitanova. In 2016, another Nigerian man was killed in Fermo, which is a town south of Civitanova. The man was killed for trying to protect his wife from racist verbal abuse.
Italy has earned a reputation for being a racist country. This is apparent in the manner in which black people are addressed, looked at, and subjected to racial slurs.
Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s first black government minister, was subjected to racial slurs. Kyenge received death threats on Facebook and suffered the indignity of former City Council member in Padua, Dolores Valandro, calling for her to be raped.
Several black soccer players who have played in Italian stadiums have been subjected to racist name-calling and monkey chants. In some instances, bananas have been thrown at these soccer players.
An even more worrying aspect of this attack is the possibility that Italy might elect an extreme right-wing coalition in September that has said immigration is a problem.