Brutal Killing Of Nigerian Street Vendor In Italy Sparks Outrage

The killing of a Nigerian street vendor in Italy has sparked national outrage and renewed conversations about racism against migrants ahead of the country’s snap elections in September. 

Alika Ogorchukwu, 39, was reportedly chased, struck with a crutch he used to walk and then “beaten to death with bare hands” by the assailant, who also stole his phone while he was on the ground, police said.

Video footage of the attack, which took place at about 2 p.m. last Friday in the center of the eastern Italian beach town of Civitanova Marche, was captured by an onlooker, but no one was seen attempting to intervene.

A police statement released on July 31st says Ogorchukwu was found dead at the scene by paramedics. A 32-year-old Italian citizen, Filippo Ferlazzo, has been arrested for murder and robbery, police said. One of the assailant’s lawyers told CNN on Monday that Ferlazzo has psychiatric issues, and they intend to file a psychiatric report.

Police officer Matteo Luconi said that the killing “was not racially motivated.” His statement said the incident was likely due to “petty reasons.” The attack was also recorded on several surveillance cameras, and images captured by witnesses will be “viewed to clarify the dynamics of the beating,” Luconi said.

Hundreds of Italians and Nigerians protested in Civitanova Marche over the weekend. According to the Guardian, some people have even compared the killing to that of George Floyd, who was murdered at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in 2020.

The Nigerian embassy in Rome condemned the killing of Ogorchukwu, saying: “The incident occurred on a busy street and in front of shocked onlookers, some of whom made videos of the attack, with little or no attempt to prevent it.”

The embassy says it is working with Italian authorities to provide support to Ogorchukwu’s family and to ensure they receive justice. 

Ogorchukwu’s wife, Charity Oriachi, told journalists that she wanted justice for her husband. “I want to look that man in the eye and ask him why he killed my husband. There were so many people around, why didn’t anyone help him? I want justice now,” she said.

Francesco Mantella, the lawyer representing Ogorchukwu’s wife, told CNN that Ogorchukwu lived in Italy for about nine years and worked as a street vendor, selling small items such as lighters and tissue paper. He was run over by a car while riding his bicycle last year, which left him disabled. Ogorchukwu used a crutch to help him walk. 

The mayor of Civitanova Marche announced that the municipality would pay the expenses for Ogorchukwu’s funeral. A fundraiser was started to help his wife and their 8-year-old son, Mantella said. 

The killing of Ogorchukwu has sparked outrage in Italy, where right-wing factions have been accused of using xenophobic tactics in the country’s election campaign. 

Don Vinicio Albanesi, a local priest and the founder of the Capodarco Community, an organization that helps take care of refugees and people with disabilities, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “We live in a distrustful region, where Black people are accepted only if they do the humblest of jobs. We are dealing here with a culture that despises anyone who is not white and local.”

Francesco Acquaroli — president of the Brothers of Italy, a right-wing political party that currently governs the Civitanova Marche region where Ogorchukwu was killed — reportedly condemned the killing, saying: “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.”


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