Willy Monteiro Duarte is the 21-year-old son of African immigrants who beaten to death on September 6; several members of a notorious gang were accused of being involved in his death, which took place in the Italian city of Paliano.
Several Italian political leaders as well as journalists have condemned Duarte’s killing and have said it presents a moment of reflection for the country.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Willy Montiero Duarte Had Just Gained Citizenship
According to Al Jazeera, Duarte was born in Rome to African immigrants from Cape Verde and he grew up in the town of Paliano. La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, reported that Duarte worked at the Hotel degli Amici di Artena as an assistant cook.
According to La Fiamma, he had recently gained citizenship, attended a school in Fiuggi and was a fan of AS Roma (a local soccer team). La Repubblica reported that the place where he cooked has now attempted to start a fundraiser, according to one of their Facebook posts:
[Translated from Italian]: “Hello friends, we would like to help Willy’s family in a concrete way. We are in contact with the local municipalities and we are trying to involve all the press and television channels that are contacting us. (We want) to start a fundraiser for Willy’s family, to which each of us can participate (in) what we can … We thank all those who want to contribute.”
“He went out to spend an evening with his friends, the ones he grew up with, the ones he has known all his life, and he never came back. My son didn’t deserve to die like that. My little one was so good.” Willy’s mother said, according to La Repubblica. “I can’t believe it, my son didn’t deserve this end. His dream was to be a cook, which is why he had been a hotelier and was currently working at the Amici di Artena hotel.”
2. Witnesses Said Duarte Was Intervening in a Fight
In a Facebook post, the mayor of Paliano, Domenico Alfieri, said that Duarte was “a great guy who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
A young man named Lorenzo told La Repubblica that he was in shock over the incident. “We were very much friends. We had been with the same group for a long time. I was there in front, I saw him die. I will never be able to get the scene out of my head, he was no longer breathing,” he said.
“It was all very fast,” Lorenzo said, telling the paper that he was with Duarte for an hour or less. “I don’t remember very well. I’m still in shock, I haven’t slept for two days and I relive those moments,” he told La Repubblica. “Willy here everyone knew him. A sunny, silent, good boy, would never have hurt a fly. An incredible tragedy.”
According to Al Jazeera, Duarte’s image appeared on several newspapers in Italy and one was captioned, “Ciao Willy, killed for his generosity.”
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a Facebook post that the attack set a bad precedent for others who may want to act as good Samaritans. Here is his entire statement:
The tragedy that struck the family of Willy Monteiro Duarte yesterday struck me deeply. It left me shocked. A boy who had recently crossed the threshold of 20 years, studied and worked, lived his passions, emotions. He cultivated his dreams and was probably exposed to the many uncertainties that concern young people intent on building their own future of personal and professional life.
Suddenly a deaf and unmotivated violence fell into him. We are all close to his family, to his community of Paliano, to all those who loved and appreciated him. I conveyed this feeling to his parents, to his sister, even in the awareness that it is difficult to fully understand the anguish caused by such acute and painful suffering.
The judiciary is conducting investigations and justice will definitely take its course. We trust that we will soon arrive at certain and severe condemnations.
How will we react in the meantime? What measures will we take? Will we tell our kids to turn their heads away? Not to intervene to sedate disagreements or to try to protect weaker friends or in obvious difficulty?
I don’t think this can be the answer, the path to follow. We must rather multiply our efforts, in every location and in every context, to ensure that our children grow up in the cult of respect for the person and escape the myth of violence and overwhelm.
3. Four Men Have Been Implicated in the Attack
La Fiamma reported that those involved included two brothers who were mixed martial artists named Gabriele (26) and Marco Bianchi (24), as well as Francesco Belleggia (23) and Mario Pincarelli (22).
According to La Fiamma, the four were part of a gang known as the Artena Gang (“Banda di Artena”).
La Repubblica reported that the Bianchi brothers were obsessed with family and mixed martial arts. According to the paper, “Marco Bianchi … and his brother Gabriele have been terrorizing the area for years with fights and violence of all kinds.” The paper also reported that Marco is an MMA champion with the nickname of “Maldito.”
The gang they were associated with, according to La Repubblica, “felt invincible and flaunted wealth and violent attitudes,” “attacked a security officer” and “hit a traffic cop who was trying to enforce anti-Covid measures.”
A man from the area, Alessandro, told La Repubblica that he knew of the brothers and had encounters with them before:
For two years they have been fighting and beating in the same way. They have been the (perpetrators) of other beatings. I had a fight with one of them a few months ago because he bothered a friend of mine. The anger is that it is not the first time they have done this. It could have been avoided.
A website, Wanted in Rome, reported that three of those involved — the Bianchi brothers and Pincarelli — had been arrested and were sitting in Rome’s Rebibbia prison; the fourth suspect, Belleggia, was put under house arrest. The website reported that magistrates believed he was the subject of “‘unmotivated and unprecedented’ violence against a young man who ‘had nothing to do with’ the fight that was triggered by a trivial matter.”
According to Al Jazeera, both Colleferro and Paliano declared days of mourning.
Italian journalist Carlo Verdelli wrote in Italy’s Corriere della Sera (the Evening Courier), “Today’s funeral for Willy is the funeral of a nation that doesn’t know how to educate or protect its sons,” Verdelli wrote. Here is another part of his statement:
Perhaps we have a more pressing problem than the Recovery Fund, the outcome of the referendum or who will win the next Regional. Even more urgent than the rising wave of those infected with the Coronavirus. The problem is anger, which is uprooting the social protections that the contained and spreads — no brakes, no limits. The problem is what we are becoming as a country, resigned to the worst.
The problem, for example, is Willy Monteiro Duarte, beaten to death and left there to gasp, curled up like a fetus, in a square in Colleferro, which is in Rome but could be anywhere. Willy, beaten and bloodied to death by three or four tattooed thugs, barely older than him, (who) got out of a black SUV to fix the start of a fight in their own way. (Willy) who tries to get up from the ground after each discharge of blows, making himself strong on his arms, up to the lethal blow. He had tried to dampen tempers as soon as they were kindled, to the aid of a friend who had come under fire from the new savages. Come on, stop it, let’s go away. “I will never forget the sound of his body falling,” a witness will say. It is three o’clock in the morning, it will finish going off at five, shaken by a fury without cause, without sense. The tragic end of an Italian Saturday, but of an ugly and bad Italy that we do not want to recognize, more indifferent than alarmed.
According to Al Jazeera, prosecutors have not yet said whether they believe the murder was racially motivated.
4. Duarte Was Beaten to Death, According to Multiple Reports
According to La Fiamma, Duarte saw his friend being threatened by a man at around 1 in the morning on Sunday, September 6, and stepped in. As he tried to diffuse things, the original aggressor called for “backup,” and three men in a black Audi showed up.
Here is what witness Emanuele Cenciarelli told Corriere della Sera happened next:
They jumped on him when he was already on the ground, the two boys with whom Federico, Willy’s friend, was initially arguing with. I remember that one was wearing a white shirt and had a tear tattooed on his face under his eye , as well as several tattoos on both arms and the hands. The other boy, on the other hand, had an arm in a cast. At the time of the attack, I remember that in addition to the aforementioned boys described by me, three other boys joined, of which I am able to describe only two. One wore a green polo shirt with very short hair and the other with a flashy neck tattoo. As far as I can remember, all of the guys kicked and punched me and Willy. I have a vivid memory of a couple of them even jumping over Willy’s body lying on the ground and already helpless.
Fayza Rouissi also said that she identified three people, the “Bianchi twins” and Pincarelli. According to what she told Corriere della Sera, “Gabriele Bianchi) first kicked (Willy) in the stomach, then Willy collapsed to the ground. Then (he) got up and was hit again by Gabriele.” She said that Willy had fallen to the ground and was still bleeding from the mouth, but Gabriele continued to beat him.
Corriere della Sera also reported that Belleggia did not hit Willy, but appeared to be associated with the other three and was involved in a verbal argument. According to what witnesses said, the Bianchi brothers told him to “shut up.”
According to Corriere della Sera, witness Federico Riccardo Zurma said three girls they knew were being bothered by men from the Artena gang.
My friend Alessandro and I … went to ask for an account. We started arguing, I got a punch and then the turmoil broke out. Many (people) separated us. When I was about to leave, I noticed another group of people fighting with kicks and punches. Someone told me that the one lying on the ground was Willy. He was trembling, he was shaking as if he had convulsions. We tried to help, then the ambulance arrived. We left because the friend who was with me recognized Artena’s boys in Willy’s attackers. We feared they would hit us too.
A preliminary autopsy report found that Duarte suffered “multiple traumatic injuries” to his chest, abdomen and neck, according to Wanted in Rome, all of which led him to die from cardiac arrest.
One of the twins, Marco, claimed to have only pushed Willy, not hit him. According to Corriere della Sera, here is what the judge said Bianchi said: “Marco Bianchi reported that when he left the pub in the company of his brother, a friend and three girls whose names he could not give, while they were having sexual intercourse near the cemetery, they received a phone call from their friend Michele Cercuozzi who asked him to help them in Colleferro.”
5. Hundreds Came out for Willy’s Funeral
According to Euro News, the funeral procession was held in the sporting stadium of Duarte’s favorite team, AS Roma, and he was honored with applause as his casket was carried out. The soccer club, according to The Independent, plans to dedicate its anti-bullying school program, “A Scuola di Tifo,” to his memory for all of next season.
After Duarte’s death, social media erupted with the #vigliacchi, Italian for “cowards.”
Even the prime minister showed up at the funeral. After the funeral, according to The Associated Press, Conte said, “We must look ourselves in the eye and become fully aware that there are some pockets of society and fringes of the population that cultivate the mythology of violence and oppression.”
In a Facebook post, the mayor of Paliano, Domenico Alfieri said, “The city of Paliano is mourning and mourning his young son, torn from life too soon, in the most barbaric way. A pure boy who with his conduct has given us a teaching that none of us can ignore. There is no space between the righteous for violence, hatred and overwhelm.”
“Yesterday’s funeral was an opportunity to express a unanimous condolences, which from Paliano spread to the nearby centers and, crossing regional borders, involved the whole of Italy,” he said. “This is for us a sign of great hope, in the drama we are experiencing as a community..”