Hundreds of people have marched through a central Italian town, demanding justice for a Nigerian street vendor murdered in broad daylight.
The killing of Alika Ogorchukwu, 39, has sparked a racism debate in Italy in the midst of an election campaign in which immigration is a core theme for the coalition of two far-right parties that is tipped to win.
Ogorchukwu was beaten to death in Civitanova Marche, on the Adriatic coast, after an altercation with Italian man who reacted violently to Ogorchukwu’s attempts to sell him a packet of tissues, according to reports.
Deputy police commissioner Matteo Luconi was quick to rule out racial motives for the offense, noting that the suspect suffered from mental health issues whilst also stating that he was “provoked” by Ogorchukwu’s persistent actions, a statement that has drawn fierce criticism.
Center-left Democratic party politician Laura Boldrini laid the blame at the door of the far-right coalition, saying that such incidents were the result of “years of propaganda by the League and Brothers of Italy” that has “always described immigrants as a threat to the security of Italians, as murderers and rapists”.
Tensions have also been heightened in Civitanova Marche by the case of Beauty Davis, a 25-year-old woman who was allegedly slapped by her restaurant owner boss after she asked for wages owed to her.
Boldrini added: “We need immigrants to work in a variety of areas, but there is also this idea that you can exploit them, pay them little, insult them and hit them. Why? Because some people don’t consider them to be worthy of respect and because they are considered an inferior category.”