Italy’s far-right coalition is distancing itself from the kind of heinous racism that led to the murder of a disabled black man with his own crutch in northern Italy on Friday. Alika Ogorchukwu, a Nigerian peddler, was beaten to death when bystanders videotaped the horrifying incident in central Civitanova, not far from where a white supremacist “hunted” black immigrants in 2018.
The alleged perpetrator, Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32, says Ogorchukwu touched his girlfriend’s arm when he was trying to sell them jewelry near the train station. Ferlazzo, whose political affiliation is unclear, 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 and then with his bare hands — until he died.
Several people called the police while the 4-minute caning was taking place, but no one did anything to try to pull Ferlazzo away from the black man. When the police arrived, they immediately arrested Felazzo and called an ambulance for Ogorchukwu – who was now dead.
The incident comes at a time when Italy is preparing for snap elections after Mario Draghi’s government was plunged into what is now usual chaos. Italy’s center and far-right groups have formed what appears to be a victorious coalition, led by Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Brothers of Italy party shares many of the same symbols as Italy’s long-dead Fascist party. Meloni, who is a regular at CPAC conventions in the US and has invited her pal Steve Bannon to speak at her Rome conferences, opposes immigration.
So did Matteo Salvini, a former Trump loyalist who visited him during the election campaign and who immediately closed Italy’s ports to rescued migrants after being appointed interior minister. He is now facing criminal charges for kidnapping after refusing to allow several hundred people to dock. The other key player in the coalition is Italy’s longtime statesman Silvio Berlusconi, who famously struck a deal with Libyan leader Muamar Ghadaffi to “turn off the tap” on migrants entering Italy from Libya in exchange for investments.
Opponents of this leading group immediately suggested that the murder of Ogorchukwu was directly related 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 pain to the end. City in disorder, violence day and night, we can’t stand it any longer: safety has no color, safety must be a right again.”
The Nigerian embassy in Italy has called for peaceful protests and a thorough investigation into the killing.