A Nigerian Street Vendor Is Beaten to Death in Italy as Witnesses Stand By

Mr. Ferlazzo, a 32-year-old factory worker, is being held on charges of homicide and robbery because he took Mr. Ogorchukwu’s cellphone after the episode. Matteo Luconi, the chief police investigator in Macerata overseeing the case, said in a telephone interview that an autopsy later this week would establish the cause of death. Nothing has emerged from investigations to suggest “elements of racial hatred,” he added. A statement issued by the police said the “motive for the murder” appeared to be traceable to “petty reasons.”

In addition to its violence and the bystanders, the killing touched a nerve because the Marches region, where Civitanova is, has been the scene of heinous crimes against migrants. In February 2018, an Italian right-wing sympathizer shot and wounded six African immigrants in Macerata, some 19 miles inland from Civitanova Marche, marking the city as a bastion of intolerance. Two years earlier, a Nigerian man was killed in the city of Fermo, just south of Civitanova, after he tried to defend his wife from racist slurs.

Italians have been leaving bouquets of flowers, potted plants and scribbled notes at the scene of the deadly beating. “Stop racism,” read one note.

In an email, Mr. Ferlazzo’s lawyer, Roberta Bizzarri, said her client, his girlfriend and his mother all “felt pain” because of what had transpired, adding that Mr. Ferlazzo had “overt psychiatric disorders, a recognized borderline diagnosis.” She also said that “this very sad story” was “not a case of racism.”

Fabrizio Ciarapica, the mayor of Civitanova Marche, met with Mr. Ogorchukwu’s widow on Saturday, and on Sunday, the municipal administration approved a motion to assist the family. Funds have been set aside to help pay for the funeral, and a bank account was opened for donations. “The community is always ready to extend a hand to those in need,” Mr. Ciarapica said in a statement sent on Sunday.

The mayor also pledged to “protect the image and values of Civitanova, which has always been a civilized, welcoming, generous, peaceful and supportive city and which is dismayed and grieved by an affair foreign to its character and soul.”

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