On Friday, Alika Ogorchukwu (39), a Nigerian man working as a street vendor in Italy, was beaten to death in broad daylight in a busy shopping street in Civitanova in the Marche region in Italy, while no one intervened to help him.
Ogorchukwu was selling goods in the busy centre of the town when a man grabbed his crutch and knocked him down, the police said during a press conference on Saturday.
"The perpetrator went after the victim and first hit him with a crutch," the local police told reporters. "He knocked him to the ground and then repeatedly hit him with his bare hands, causing his death."
Several bystanders filmed the attack and shared the videos on social media, and while voices in the background can be heard telling the attacker to stop, no one intervened physically. Based on the videos circulating online and surveillance images, the police were able to arrest the perpetrator, a 32-year-old man named Filippo Ferlazzo.
It is unclear why Ferlazzo attacked the man, but the police said that he "flew into a rage" after Ogorchukwu reportedly "insistently" asked for change.
Daniel Amanza who runs the local ACSIM association for immigrants in the region told AP News Agency that Ogorchukwu was married, has two children, and started selling goods on the street after he was hit by a car and lost his job as a labourer due to his injuries.
According to him, the perpetrator started attacking Ogorchukwu after he had allegedly called the man's girlfriend beautiful. Ferlazzo is being held on suspicion of murder and theft for allegedly taking the victim’s phone, and has yet to make a statement.
The fatal attack is causing a lot of outrage in Italy, as many people are shocked that it could happen in broad daylight in a busy city centre while no one intervened. According to many, the attack has a racist element to it, as they believe the situation would have turned out differently if the victim had not been black and the attacker had not been white.
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A possible racist attack is especially sensitive in the Marche region, after a racist gunman shot six African migrants in Macerata, barely a half-hour drive from Civitanova, in 2018.
While the campaigns for the parliamentary elections in September are in full swing in Italy, politicians are also reacting to the incident.
"The murder of Alika Ogorchukwu leaves us appalled," said Enrico Letta, a former Italian Prime Minister and leader of the left-wing Partito Democratico (PD), on Twitter. "The unprecedented ferocity. The widespread indifference. There can be no justification."