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Italy faces own 'moment' after murder of young migrant

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The beating to death of a young Italian of Cape Verdean origin has reopened the debate on racism in Italy.

On the eve of Willy Monteiro Duarte's funeral, the killing of the 21-year near Rome, hits a raw nerve in the country.


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.


Although the Prosecutor's Office has ruled out the racial motive, the young man's family awaits justice for a son beaten to death by a group of at least four people, who could now see the charge turned from pre-intentional to voluntary murder.

Besides, a parallel investigation opened by the Postal Police on racist insults on social media is yet another demonstration of a misunderstood migration phenomenon, even when it concerns young people born in Italy, such as Willy, who was studying to become a cook.

Daisy Osakue is a 24-year old Italian-Nigerian athlete who holds the national record for discus-throw. In 2018, she had risked missing the European Championships in Berlin after a group of teenagers hit her in the eye, throwing eggs from a running car.

I know that Italy needs time to develop full awareness of migrations, she says. "I'm part of the first generation of foreigners' children who has become naturalized Italian citizens". 

"Good news is we still have time [for a full integration]. Horrible episodes happen everyday. The most important thing is not do divide them into black and white, right or wrong, but to stick together instead, so that these crimes won't happen again". - Daisy Osakue Italian-Nigerian athlete.

But many questions indeed remain.

Willy Monteiro Duarte pictured


The impression generally for minority groups in Italy is that the importance of integrating minorities, much more widespread in other countries, such as the United States, is still a distant goal here.

Duarte’s death comes at a time when the radar is on this goal across the world following racial tensions and protests in the aftermath of George Floyds' death in US police custody.

It however remains to be seen how muxh of a moment this is for Italy and indeed how it would emerge from this.