Murder of Alika Ogorchukwu: Is Europe simply as racist as America


On July 29, a white Italian man beat to demise Alika Ogorchukwu, a disabled Nigerian avenue vendor from Civitanova Marche in Italy, as bystanders regarded on and merely recorded the murder.

On discovering out about Ogorchukwu’s demise, I contemplated whether or not to observe footage of the homicide and inevitably run the danger of struggling the anguish that George Floyd’s equally traumatic demise inflicted on my soul in May 2020.

In the top, to actually bear witness to the immense struggling he had been subjected to in his ultimate moments, to expertise a small measure of the ache that he felt, I watched it. The footage left me teary, sick and trembling with fear. Ogorchukwu was like me, in any case: a middle-aged African migrant who was making an attempt to construct a greater future for himself and his household.

According to Italian police, the frenzied assault occurred after Ogorchukwu persistently tried to promote merchandise to Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo and his girlfriend.

However, the Association Center Services for Migrants within the Marche Region mentioned Ogorchukwu was attacked not for assuming a tough sale approach, however for allegedly addressing Ferlazzo’s girlfriend as “beautiful” (and touching her arm).

Listening to the discussions over the alleged motivation behind the mindless, racist homicide, I couldn’t assist however take into consideration the “unresolved” 1955 homicide of Emmett Till in Mississippi, the United States.

Fourteen-year-old Till was kidnapped, overwhelmed, shot within the head, tied to an enormous steel fan and thrown into the Tallahatchie River, for the “crime” of supposedly whistling at a 21-year-old white girl. He had allegedly “flirted” together with her and that sealed his stunning destiny. Six many years later, Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white girl on the centre of the allegations towards Till, revealed that she had really lied about the whole lot.

The crude and degrading caricature of a “black brute”, a violent beast that’s “crazed with lust” for white ladies, was crucial to 19th and 20th century American “negrophobic” discourse and white supremacist ideologies used to justify racism, and the lynching of Black males. White supremacists have lengthy used made-up “attacks” on white ladies’s dignities to commit violence towards Black males and perpetrate white terror.

Ogorchukwu’s current homicide demonstrates that the very public, incessant and systematically imposed dehumanisation and criminalisation of Black those who led to Emmett Till’s ugly homicide within the US greater than half a century in the past – and the homicide of numerous different African Americans in modern-day America – can be claiming lives miles away in Italy.

Indeed, Ogorchukwu, sadly, isn’t the primary, and sadly will possible not be the final, amongst numerous African males and ladies shot, injured and killed in racially motivated assaults in Italy.

In 1979, for instance, unknown assailants burned to demise Ahmed Ali Jama, a Somali refugee. Giacomo Valent, a 16-year-old scholar of Italian and Somali descent, was overwhelmed and stabbed to demise in 1985 for being a “dirty n*****” by two white classmates. And Senegalese migrant Assane Diallo was shot ten occasions and killed in Milan after asking a stranger for 5 euros in 2018.

The violence isn’t just bodily, although: it’s usually verbal, too, and cleverly embedded in nationalist philosophies and anti-migration insurance policies.

Italy’s first Black minister Cécile Kyenge has been likened to an orangutan by a right-wing senator, as an illustration, {and professional} footballer Mario Balotelli has repeatedly change into the goal of monkey chants in soccer stadiums.

Meanwhile, right-wing political events, such because the League, led by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, have intentionally stoked anti-migrant sentiments to win votes. “We need a mass cleansing, street by street, piazza by piazza, neighbourhood by neighbourhood,” Salvini mentioned forward of parliamentary elections in 2018. And he’s unashamedly claimed that folks like Kyenge and Balotelli are simply “pawns” in some mysterious grand scheme to erase “identities, diversities, histories” in Italy.

Like so many “America first” nationalists within the US, Salvini seemingly subscribes to the racist “White Replacement Theory” and this explains his astonishing animosity in direction of migrants. As inside minister, he notoriously barred international ships carrying sick and determined migrants rescued at sea from docking at Italy’s shores. At the time, Spanish newspaper El Mundo mentioned, “Europe has not experienced such alarming levels of racial intolerance since the consolidation of the fascist movements in the years leading up to World War II”. It added, “Europe cannot continue to tolerate the violent attitude of an EU member who does nothing but undermine the values on which the European project is based”.

Italy is at present gearing up for snap parliamentary elections on September 25 and Salvini has as soon as once more managed to make immigration the decisive electoral matter. Despite El Mundo’s admirable observations and protestations, I don’t think about Salvini to be an oddity in Europe or the “European project”. His endlessly strident utterances towards racial range, for one, echo Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s current discriminatory assertion that Hungarians don’t need to change into “peoples of mixed race”. Salvini’s electoral promise to course of refugees in North Africa sounds eerily similar to the racist Rwanda-United Kingdom asylum deal concluded in June. Plus, it’s considerably just like the anti-migration offers that the European Union concluded with TurkeyLibya and Niger to curtail migration from North Africa and the Middle East. And Salvini’s determination to bar migrant rescue ships from docking in Italy isn’t any completely different from Polish safety forces systematically forcing asylum seekers to return to Belarus, or Greek authorities “pushing back” ships carrying asylum seekers from Greek waters, with the complicit help of Frontex, the EU border guard company.

So the distinction between Salvini’s Italy and the supposedly “progressive” European nations is just a matter of fashion and never substance. Spain’s problematic insurance policies and actions, for instance, are additionally undermining the EU’s supposed dedication to racial range. On June 24, no less than 23 African males died on the Melilla-Morocco border as they tried to cross into Spain. Human rights organisations rightly characterised the deaths as a tragedy and known as for a radical and impartial investigation into the questionable actions of Moroccan and Spanish border guards. However, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described it as an “attack” on Spain’s “territorial integrity” and framed irregular migration as a safety menace.

That Sanchez claimed Spain is below assault from Africans is hardly shocking. Right-wing and conservative parts in Europe – similar to their counterparts within the US – are infatuated with conspiracy theories about elaborate and extremely implausible migrant “invasions”.

The EU claims all types of hatred and intolerance are incompatible with European values. Plus hate-motivated crime and speech are unlawful below EU legislation. Yet, throughout Europe, politicians are brazenly utilizing inflammatory speech to focus on spiritual and racial minorities and criminalise migration. To make sure, reckless discuss ethnic homogeneity and migrants “flooding” Europe creates the circumstances below which xenophobia can flourish and folks like Ogorchukwu, folks like soccer participant Adama Traoré, folks like myself change into “legitimate” targets for police brutality and racist violence. How many extra migrants like Ogorchukwu should die by the hands of seemingly indoctrinated protagonists earlier than Europe realises racism is a continental disaster?

The EU should do greater than proclaim its timeless dedication to establishing “vibrant democracies” and “pluralistic societies”. It should make sure that racial and non secular minorities should not subjected to the incessant Nazi-like hate speech and racism that has gone mainstream in Europe. As Europe turns into an more and more hostile place for Black and brown folks and migrants, the EU should critically think about implementing the so-called Article 7 procedures towards delinquent nations that threaten its core values.

Europe so simply criticises and condemns American racism. But it’s exhausting to say it’s doing significantly better than its youthful sibling throughout the Atlantic relating to combating white supremacist ideologies, attitudes and conspiracies.

Ogorchukwu and numerous refugees didn’t need to die violent deaths in Italy. Nobody – Black, white or brown – should. But till Europe acknowledges and takes critical motion to deal with its racism disaster, Black, brown and migrant our bodies will probably be in as a lot hazard there as they’re in America.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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