ROME – As the United States continues to grapple with racism and protests following the death of George Floyd earlier this summer, Italy is facing its own Black Lives Matter moment following the death of a young migrant over the weekend.
“Enough violence, enough racism,” the Black Italians group (NIBI) said in a statement after the murder of Willy Monteiro Duarte, a 21-year-old originally from Cape Verde, who was found beaten to death in Colleferro, a small town in the south of the Rome region, this weekend.
Duarte had worked as an assistant cook in a restaurant in Artena, about 10 minutes by car from Colleferro. After finishing a work shift over the weekend, he returned home to change and went to meet some friends.
The circumstances that led to his death have yet to be clarified, however, it is believed while they were out, a group of five other men provoked an argument with one of Duarte’s friends, and that the fight turned violent.
It is currently believed that when Duarte attempted to intervene he was beaten to death, and that the crime was racially motivated.
Brothers Marco and Gabriele Bianchi, both experts in Mixed Martial Arts, have been arrested along with three others.
Paolo Barros, president of the NIBI organization, condemned the attack and asked for “justice and truth for an unjustified and violent death,” adding that, “we cannot think that one of our children leaves the house and never comes back.”
On behalf of his organization, Barros extended sympathies to Duarte’s family and assured that they would offer any and all support necessary “so that justice is done.”
“Every life must be protected. Black lives matter. Violence does not only occur in America. Also here in Italy Black Lives Matter,” the statement said, adding, “united we are, together we can.”
Duarte’s death comes at a time when tensions over racism are particularly acute following the death of George Floyd, an African American man, who died while in police custody this summer after an officer knelt on his neck and back for nearly nine minutes, despite pleas from Floyd that he could not breath.
The protests that erupted after Floyd’s death went international, with numerous groups taking to the streets to protest racism throughout Europe, including Italy, which has long been accused of espousing racist views toward migrants, in particular.
In a statement, the Diocese of Palestrina, which oversees the area where the incident took place, said they were “dismayed and bewildered” by Duarte’s death, saying he had grown up an active member of his parish in Paliano, and had been “present in the life of the community.”
They offered prayers for Duarte’s family, as well as the families of the young men responsible for Duarte’s death, asking that “regardless of the course of justice, what happened may lead to a profound reflection and awareness of the drift that overwhelms us.”
“It is Willy and our young people who we must think about when we ask ourselves the question, ‘What do I do to make sure this doesn’t happen to another Willy?’” the statement said.
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