Hundreds of people in Italy join a funeral procession for a young black man whose brutal beatings shook the country and drew condemnation from the highest levels of government
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Italy’s interior minister attended the funeral of 21-year-old Villa Monteiro Duarte, who was killed in a battle in Colefero, a city on the outskirts of Rome, in early September 6th.
Four Italians have been arrested, including two brothers with police records and martial arts, but to date prosecutors have not indicated whether the murder was racially motivated.
Italian news quoted witnesses as saying that Monteiro Duarte, who was born in Rome to parents from the African island nation of Cape Verde, intervened while seeing a friend who was beaten in battle and then committed suicide.
The killing struck a country that has shown a remarkable sense of common purpose in recent months in its efforts to curb the outbreak of coronavirus in Italy. Carlo Verdeli, writing in the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Saturday, said the beating was evidence of another, uglier Italy, where indifference, hatred and anger are on the rise.
“Willy’s funeral today is the funeral of a nation that does not know how to educate or protect its sons,” Verdeli wrote.
While noting that a racial element has not been identified, Verdeli said the killing was evidence of “hatred of those who are different, who come from outside, who are fat, thin, women or people with disabilities, or who try to oppose of a law for the survival of the fittest. “
Hundreds of people took part in the funeral procession, most of them in white shirts and face masks, walking to the sports stadium where Monteiro Duarte was honored and then clapping respectfully as his coffin was taken out. It was a strong demonstration of solidarity for the young man, an apprentice cook whom those who knew him described as hardworking and respectful.
Pictures of his smiling face have been pasted in Italian newspapers for days, along with photos of the suspects, including those showing the tattooed brothers without a shirt in boxing poses.
Conte’s murder seems to have affected him internally: He then called the family to express his condolences and demand justice. Conte also said the killing was not an isolated event and should not be kept to a minimum.
“We need to look each other in the eye and fully realize that there are some pockets of society and population boundaries that cultivate the mythology of violence and oppression,” Conte told the crowd after Saturday’s funeral.
In a separate Facebook post, he asked what it means that someone can be killed in Italy because he tried to help a friend.
Will we tell our children to look away? Do not intervene to quell disputes or try to protect weaker friends or friends in obvious difficulty? Conte asked. “I don’t think that could be the answer or the way forward. Rather, we need to multiply our efforts in every place and context so that our children grow up with a culture of respect for all.”
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