Murder and Xenophobia: Troubled Times in Italy


I don’t know even know where to begin to write this post and I don’t know where it’ll end up, but I feel like I should so here it goes. I hope you’ll stick with me.

The murder of 21-year-old British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia has thoroughly shaken Italy and England, judging from the coverage it has gotten in British press. And rightfully so. Accidents abroad happen all the time, but murder? And yes, murder is always horrible, but in this case, the suspects make it even more troublesome–especially as none appear to have had any history of violence.

Kercher was stabbed in the neck after, police say, she resisted a sexual attack that in some way involved her American roommate, 20-year-old Amanda Knox, a student at the University of Washington also studying abroad, Knox’s Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, a 24-year-old son of a urologist from Bari, and Patrick Lumumba, a 37-year-old married Congolese immigrant who runs the bar where Knox worked.

The details are murky at this point, but it’s been widely reported that Knox “confessed” to having some role in the killing; from statements leaked by Italian police, Knox said that while Kercher and Lumumba were in Kercher’s room, she stayed in the kitchen and covered her ears when she heard what were surely Kercher’s last screams. Sollecito’s statements have been all over the place, but he insists that he was at home the night of the murder.

[EDITED: Thanks to information from Steve Huff of The True Crime Weblog, Lumumba apparently now says he has an alibi and wasn’t even at the scene of the crime, making this an even stranger story.]

What it sounds like to me is that these three are telling conflicting stories and no one really knows what to believe. It looks like we’ll just have to wait this one out, possibly for forensic evidence to tell what really happened.

And while we mourn the loss of Kercher, who was studying at Perugia’s famous Università per Stranieri (just as our own Tina of Pecorino e Miele did), there is another fascinating aspect to this case from a cultural standpoint–the focus on the online presence of Knox.

Like many her age, Knox kept a MySpace (username “Foxy Knoxy”) and Facebook page, and there’s also a YouTube video of a drunk Knox slurring her words, and, well, being a young adult. Particularly interesting, though, is that on her MySpace blog, Knox apparently wrote a story about rape.

[EDITED: Courtesy of Steve Huff’s blog, you can find “mirrors” of Knox’s MySpace page here and of her blog here; both of the original pages have been made private.]

So here’s another question in all of this–how much should this online information matter? I’m not talking about from a legal perspective, but in the court of public opinion, is this fair? Is anything you put online fair game? Should it be?

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a great debate on this very subject: “Are we being fair?

For me, I think if you put the information out there, you can’t stop people from looking unless you make it private. You also can’t control their opinions. Would I want to live my life censoring myself just on the off chance that one day something could be used against me? Well geez, just about anything can be taken out of context anyway, so even censoring myself wouldn’t be foolproof.

Drunk videos? Well that’s something else entirely. I say if you’d be embarrassed for your mom, dad, employer, insert other authority figure here to see it, don’t post it. But teenagers (and adults!) don’t often think that far ahead, do they? But they should.

A short story about rape? I’m a writer, so should I avoid touchy subjects just in case I’m ever in the wrong place at the wrong time (not insinuating this is what happened to Knox)? Well that I can’t accept.

It’s an interesting question, and I’d love to know what you think.


Now, shifting gears, but still taking off from the Kercher murder–on the Italian side of things, one can’t miss the irony that right now on the heels of a murder allegedly committed by a Romanian immigrant from the Roma (“gypsy”) community, Italian lawmakers would like to be able to expel any dangerous EU citizen, although the targets are clearly immigrants from new EU members like Romania.

Read what other terrible things have happened, including a Roma camp being torn down and a mob attack, here.

Just yesterday, Italian and Romanian leaders met to ask for help from the EU in dealing with large population movements, but only time will tell just how xenophobic Italy can and will get. For many of us in the expat community particularly, we’ve noted how poorly immigrants are portrayed in the Italian media — often the only crimes you’ll see on a newscast are those committed by foreigners.

And by “foreigners,” I mean mostly Albanians, Romanians, and Africans.

Maybe it’s something about coming from countries such as the United States, England, Australia, etc., that have, after many struggles, (mostly) embraced immigrants, but for a lot of us, all we’re seeing is prejudice and hate. To be sure, all of the above-mentioned countries have immigration issues too, but what’s happening now in Italy is so deeply disturbing, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this.

There are ways of regulating immigration without resorting to sweeping generalizations about countries and their citizens, and I can only hope that the Italian government will explore them.

Virtually every ethnicity/race that has entered a foreign country has encountered prejudice and worse — we Americans don’t need to go too far into our history to stare the Jim Crow South in the face — but for Italians, for my adopted country, to participate in similar behavior just breaks my heart.

And I can’t help but think of the 11 Italians who were lynched in New Orleans in 1891 in one of America’s largest mass lynchings–after they had been acquitted of the murder of the New Orleans’ police commissioner.

And I just wonder where the prejudice and hate will stop.

30 days of thanks

Today I’m thankful for:

The safety and well-being of myself and my loved ones.

There’s nothing I’m more thankful for, in fact.

74 Beans of Wisdom to “Murder and Xenophobia: Troubled Times in Italy”
  1. Tui

    Thanks for posting about this. I saw something about it on the news last night, but all I understood was that a young woman from Seattle was somehow implicated in a rape/murder and I didn’t catch any names.

    I’m from Washington State, so the proximity caught my ear, but by then I’d missed most of the story.

    The whole bit about her story is unsettling. I often write fiction and would hate to be judged by what I write.

    However, in my experience, after non-writers read a piece of fiction, they often assume that everything in it is true. To which I roll my eyes and say, ‘Hello! It’s called fiction for a reason.’

    On the other hand, fiction is often inspired by real events. So I can see why the police would be interested in what she wrote. But for people to immediately assume that it’s factual is not right.

    Good point about the lynching. The media often lynches people in its own way. It’s a good reminder to think for yourself even when reading the news.

    Well, I’m off to check out those links you posted… Thanks again for the post.

  2. My Melange

    I just watched to coverage on this very story on the Today Show! Very strange situation….

  3. Giulia

    *sorry, had a problem with my last post*

    This whole topic is terribly sad & tragic! Rape alone is an inexcusable act in itself. Rape/murder…well, I just have no words.

    I am extremely bothered by the fact that this man (Lumumba)was married and, allegedly, attempted to have sexual relations with another woman besides his own wife. The topic at hand here is not just infidelity though, but that a poor girl has fallen victim to it and this monster’s loss of control. What a sad, sad, event.

    Hopefully, this puzzle will be pieced together soon enough so that there will be significant answers as to what really happened. When there’s a case like this, there’s always several conflicting stories floating around. It’a hard to know what to believe!

    I just hope Meredith’s family finds out the truth so there can be some type of closure for them.

  4. sognatrice

    *Tui, we only need to look at Dan Brown to see how fiction gets mistaken for reality….

    *Robin, I’ve been wondering how much coverage it’s getting in the US; I imagine more out west than in the east?

    *Giulia, I think it all just sounds so strange at this point, I can’t even imagine what happened in that room. Some people have said that “Patrick” was such a wonderful guy, they could never imagine him doing this…I don’t know. I think the truth is probably something that hasn’t even come up yet.

    Seems like a RIS crime drama, and yet it’s real. Scary, tragic, sad.

    And yes, hopefully Meredith’s family will get some closure. Who knows what role she played in all of this if any, but even if she was a part of something, to lose your life and possibly be sexually assaulted while studying abroad in Italy…just horrible.

  5. Geggie

    Oh my goodness, I heard about this this morning and now I’m reading it here. I’ll be sure to follow the developments.

    To your question about being a writer and when/how to write about sensitive topics. In my mind, you have the absolute right to write about this and your opinions (at least here in the US, as I don’t know the freedom of expression laws in Italy). That right is mandated (in the US), what, however, is not mandated, is good taste, manners and timing. While I don’t think that’s an issue for you, it is for others.

  6. Giulia

    I have just read several different versions of this story. It’s all so very confusing. It is even being said that this was a “violent orgy gone wrong” because Meridth didn’t want to participate. She didn’t want to partake in freakish behavior, and now she is dead because of it? I just can’t fathom someone’s motive to behave in such a way. It’s sickening…

  7. Kataroma

    To get back to media coverage of crime in Italy – it’s just downright racist. I cringe when i see the way these things are reported on the nightly news. I’m really glad you’re calling a spade a spade.

    As a result of this racist and sensationalist journalism many, many Italians think that the majority of “extracomunitari” are criminals when most of them IMO work difficult, badly paid but essential jobs like cleaning, babysitting, digging ditches, picking tomatoes etc- which Italians these days turn their noses up at.

    I agree it’s ironic the way there are no calls to throw all Americans out of Italy after an American was allegedly involved in a murder whereas lots of politicians, media outlets etc are calling to “throw out the Romanians” who as EU citizens are entitled to live here basta (unlike Americans who are not EU citizens). (not that I think anyone should be thrown out of the country of course!) It’s just pure xenophobia. Everyone likes Americans, Canadians etc as they’re rich. They don’t like the Romanians because they’re poor. Simple as that.

    Sorry to rant – but this issue makes me really angry!

  8. sognatrice

    *Geggie, speaking as a writer, I think we enter dangerous territory when we draw conclusions about what a person is/isn’t capable of doing based on their art or creative expression. Of course we are always free to do and say what we want, but it’s concerning that people are quick to interpret these things, as Tui said, as reality.

    *Giulia, I know what you mean. The more I read the more confused I get. I just hope the authorities are handling all of this well so that the truth will be found at some point.

    *Kataroma, if any issue deserves a rant, it’s this one. One of my links is to Beppe Grillo’s blog, and there’s a quote on there saying something like there’s not as much racism in Italy as in other countries…couldn’t disagree more with that, and as you said, it’s toward the poor (and this also goes for northerners who discriminate against “poor” southern Italians–I put that in quotes since obviously not all southern Italians are poor!).

    It’s easy to see how immigrants who come here and can’t find housing or work resort to petty crime/peddling, but who’s fault is that really? It’s certainly not *only* the fault of the immigrants, although sure they bear some blame.

    There has to be cooperation on both sides, and while I don’t think any EU country should necessarily have to accept other EU countries’ violent/sexual offenders, there simply has to be some kind of regulation of immigration (including services once immigrants arrive) in order for this to work. I don’t have the answers, but mass expulsions hardly seem correct, morally or otherwise.

    The media has fueled this fire and the government has let it go too far; where will we go from here? I say “boh” but I sure hope some politicians have more reasoned answers than I have.

  9. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    This was on the news here. The whole case is confusing. Of course what she wrote, put on Facebook is going to be looked at. They are trying to figure out who is lying and what this roommate is about. A writer should be able to write what ever they want but like I was told, if you wouldn’t want it on the front page of the NYTs someday don’t put it on the Internet.

    re: racism. of course I could on and on about this. The immigration issue is huge here as well. As the daughter of legal immigrants who move to the USA it is interesting to hear their perspective on all of this. Like Kataroma says I don’t see you can stop EU citizens from moving to Italy.

    That said human nature is tricky. I will be honest and say that when those three black kids were shot execution style in a Newark school yard, the brutally of it made me furious. If they were of any race I would have been sad for them. If the killer was from the neighborhood and the same race of course I would have upset and wonder what kind of world we are living in. The fact that the killers were here illegally from South America had criminal records?

    Sorry I would love to say I’m all about peace, love and happiness but I, like many other black Americans were like let me get this straight. We were born and raised here and are still treated like second citizens for the most part (unless you are a rapper or athlete, or Orpah) and you come to our country illegally and think you can shot us in the back? You hold demostrations waving a foreign flag and say you demand your rights? What rights? What part of you are in the country illegally do you not understand?

    America and Australia were built on immigration. You can’t compare how they deal with it versus other parts of world that did not colonize and therefore never had much a multi-cultural society. I hope cooler heads prevail once some time passes but something tells me that Italy and France in particular are to have some growing pains.

  10. Gill

    What is wrong in the world today? My posts are similar in vein to yours today, it is quite uncanny really.

  11. sognatrice

    *NYC, thanks so much for such a thoughtful comment. The NYT idea is great–definitely what kids (and everyone) should keep in mind about what goes on the Internet. You just never know when that stuff will come back on you.

    I do agree with you as well on the status of illegal vs. legal immigrants–there are procedures to be followed, in America certainly, but even in Italy even if they aren’t enforced/carried out effectively. And I think you’re right about human nature–there’s just something particularly offensive (is that the word?) when a person illegally in a country commits a crime against a citizen or someone otherwise legal in that country. Nothing like that to bring up all the pent up feelings of one’s own group having had to fight and struggle just to get where they are. And like we know, every group in America has gone through some kind of “hazing” for lack of a better word…and many groups, like black Americans, are still going through it.

    I don’t know, though, that we can’t look at some of the immigration-built countries and learn from their (our) mistakes. I don’t know much of the history of Australia, but in America, we’re *still* experiencing growing pains and we’ve been getting immigrants since the first “white” people came and took land from Native-Americans hundreds of years ago.

    It’s not an easy issue, obviously, but it would be nice if countries like Italy and France could look at all the stuff that we did wrong (and the few things we did right) and figure out how not to repeat the bad stuff and how to build on the good stuff…but I’m afraid, like you said, it’s going to be a rough road.

    *Gill, I’m off to see your post. Must just be one of those days 🙁

  12. denzylle

    My view is that a writer’s fiction needs to be taken in context. If a writer’s only topic across several stories, is rape, or murder, or mass destruction, then it’s a cause for concern, if detected in advance, and ‘evidence’ about the person’s state of mind if found in the aftermath of a crime.

    Examples: the alleged writings of the Virginia Tech killer, or in today’s news here in the UK, a body of writing by a young woman which is exlusively pro-Jihad, with titles such as ‘How to Behead’, etc.

    If this woman’s story about rape is a one off in the context of a rnage of other writing, it should *not* be used against her, but if she consistently writes about such things, that would be worrying.

  13. Sara

    We Americans, we always expect Europeans to be more enlightened than we are, but they are just people, too, and these prejudices are very, very old and very, very strong. Fear of The Other — it’s as old as the earliest men, and the deep inside monkey/lizard brain we all have still remembers.

  14. lango

    The often overlooked ugly side of Italy…

    Unfortunately, those of us who have lived here know all too well the reality, and the integration barriers set up at every turn for immigrants. Being such an insular culture tied to its roots as much as the Italian culture is, it’s no surprise there are so many problems accepting outsiders.

    But this issue is only going to get more intense unless major steps are made, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what actually is done following recent events, and whether real effort is going to be put forth or just more empty promises and quotes. I hate to say that I’m not overly optimistic.

    No doubt part of it can be blamed on a media that often perpetrates these feelings. But you can basically point your ignorance detector in any direction and find something contributing to this issue.

    Heck, even as an American who speaks fluent Italian and has Italian origin, it’s hard for me in certain situations to escape prejudices, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for other ethnic groups who get almost zero help from anywhere.

    Well, here’s to hoping something positive will come out of a series of senseless tragedies…

  15. Anonymous

    In regards to all the illegal immigrants in Italy- it’s nobdy’s fault but the italian government for not enforcing proper immigration procedures. we can’t really blame gypsies for stealing and begging- that’s what they do! I don’t particularly like it or feel safe when i’m in outskirt neighborhoods near gypsy camps, but i also can’t blame them for being who they are. the italian government has turned a blind eye on this issues for ages. there are gypsy camps ALL over the city of rome, even at the fairly central stazione ostiense. these people are living in unhygenic and unsafe conditions and are living illegal lives- it is the state’s DUTY to do something about it. to not allow them in or to escort them out before trouble happens. this issues is not about not wanting “poor” immigrants, it’s about not allowing people who have no intention of working and who are here to steal rob and beg to remain here. they come here with nothing, make no attempt to work and then expect the State to provide housing and food. I’m sorry, i don’t want my tax euros being used that way. there’s no reason for them to be here. i’m from a family of immigrants too, but they came here legally and have worked their fingers to the bone every single day like honest citizens. it’s not about poor or rich, it’s about civilised or uncivilised.

  16. Karina

    Another thought provoking and eloquent post from you. I hadn’t heard about this, but then, I don’t really watch the news very much, so I don’t know whether or not it’s being reported out here on the East Coast of the U.S. It’s always sad when the underlying ugliness of a society is revealed to us, but unfortunately, as has been said in the comments, we are dealing with human beings here, and humans are by nature fearful of anything different and therefore, these prejudices are bound to exist.

    About the writing thing, I’d be curious to see what exactly her story said about rape, but as a writer, I agree with basically all that has been said, which is that you can’t take a piece of fiction and attach that to the author’s moral character. Otherwise, there are plenty of authors out there that should be commited. (Stephen King anyone?) But on the same note, I supposed the NYTs thing that NYC said is true…if you don’t want it made public, don’t post it in a public forum, and we’ve all learned that pretty much anything on the internet, even if disguised as private, is still a public forum.

    That said, fiction is fiction. I wrote a poem in high school about domestic violence, and was hauled into the guidance counselor’s office for it. They were certain I was witnessing it somewhere. I was not, but it took some convincing to make them understand that fiction is fiction sometimes.

  17. sognatrice

    *Denzylle, you make a very good point–repeatedly writing about something, and graphically at that, is probably a red flag. I think there’s a difference, too, between prevention (could’ve arguably happened in the VA Tech case) versus after the fact interpretations. I think we all can agree that many things can be skewed to fit a conclusion after the fact.

    In any event, Amanda Knox apparently posted one short story about rape on her blog; in it, the young man drugged a woman, raped her, and showed no remorse.

    Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    *Sara, in many ways, unfortunately, Europeans are way behind on tolerance since most countries didn’t have to deal with it.

    *Lango, agreed, agreed, agreed. 100%.

    *Anonymous, thanks for contributing. You sound a little torn on the issue as well, starting by saying that it’s the government’s fault and ending by saying it’s also the individuals’ fault. I agree with you on the first part, and to a certain extent on the second, although some groups do have it more difficult than others in finding legitimate work (this is the same in every country although the groups differ).

    I can’t agree with you that it’s not about poor and rich, though, as it’s been the same issue throughout the history of immigration. No ethnic/racial group was accepted in America, for instance, until it started contributing positively ($$$) to society. Unfortunately, in Italy, employment is difficult for even legal, native Italians, which puts immigrants in an even more precarious position, IMHO.

    The Italian government has a lot of work to do not only for immigrants but also for its citizens; these things are not mutually exclusive. But I’ll use Lango’s words, I’m not overly optimistic.

    *Karina, thanks for sharing your experience with writing about domestic violence. I suppose children/young adults in particular run a risk of raising flags with controversial subjects…then again, it’s a good thing that they questioned you about it right, as you could’ve been a possible victim. I suppose when we’re talking about possible perpetrators of such things, though, it’s a finer line….

    I’ll email you the short story so you can have a look.

  18. SabineM

    FUNNY that you write about this. They just reported it on THE TODAY SHOW (NBC) and I immediately thought, I have to ask “bleeding espresso” what the news in Italy says! 😉
    Well, that answered my question!!!
    What you have said is what I heard on the news here…
    You will have to keep us updated on the progress of the case…I am sure it WILL NOT be TOP news here…
    VERY SAD story though.

  19. The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick

    I’ve been hearing non-stop about this here in the Seattle area, as it’s a home-town individual involved. Granted, we’re not hearing anything more than what you’ve heard there, namely about how Knox has confessed to being in the other room during the murder and covering her ears with her hands. As for the comments from all their friends who say none of them could be involved because they are great people, well, my own experience can tell you that even people in our lives that we each think are “great” can easily be capabile of heinous acts.

    Regarding whether or not things we put on the internet can be used against us, well, this is exactly why I won’t blog about anything that I wouldn’t read in front of my boss or family members or a total stranger. But, as you pointed out, rarely do younger people consider the potential outcome of what could come back to haunt them in the future. I have four large photo albums of party candids I snapped all through college that could shine a poor light on some of the subjects if they were under major scrutiny. But, thankfully, that was before email, Youtube, digital cameras, etc. Gee, did I just date myself? LOL!

    Anyway, this will be very interesting (and very sad) as we watch the rest of this story play out.


  20. Tina

    I’ve been really disturbed by such a horrible thing happening in my sweet, lovely Perugia. I haven’t blogged about it because I’m just… upset. I feel like Perugia itself has been violated. I’m really attached to that town, and I’m upset that a beautiful young girl, embracing her dreams, was killed there.

    MY take? The American girl (from my hometown of Seattle) sounds like she got mixed up with a bad guy (Raffaele). I think she was trying to protect him, as her stories of his whereabouts have changed several times. It sounds like she’s afraid of him. I read that police have found what they think might be the weapon in the Italian boy’s apartment. Maybe he threatened her if she tried to intervene or report him, etc. I don’t know.

    About Patrick, the Congolese man:

    I knew him – not well, but I did know him when I was living there. Everybody in Perugia seemed to really like him. He’s quite a fixture in the community and does so much for cultural awareness among youth, etc. by organzing events at the university, etc. I remember that I admired him a lot, being that he’s a legal immigrant who has worked hard to create a good life for himself in Italy – and with success! He’s got a wife, a child, just recenly opened his own bar… so I’m really upset that he’s a suspect. But that happens I guess.

    They could be detaining him just because he has important information about the other two suspects. He is the American girl’s boss, after all.

    I almost wonder if the other two tried to use him as an alabi.

    About fiction – Write what you want. If it’s about a dark subject then so be it. A lot of people write about dark things. I think it could possibly say something about her personal experiences (and I sincerely hope I’m wrong). I have read two of her stories so it’s just my take.

    But this shouldn’t make people afraid to write about controversial and difficult subjects. If you are inspired to write something, write it. 🙂 I’ll support you!

    In any event, I feel terrible for all of the families of all of the suspects and the family of the victim. They must all be very confused and upset.

  21. sognatrice

    *Sabine, wow, I’m flattered that you thought of me; I’ll definitely post here about any further breaks, etc., in the case.

    *Christina, I was hoping you’d come over and comment. Good to know we’re at least getting the same news–that’s not always the case from my experience.

    And I feel the same as you about publishing things on the Internet–and yes, you dated yourself, but I’m from that same era so I understand. I mean, we had email in college, but no social networking, etc. Thank goodness!

    *Tina, my other Seattle girl, and also my Perugia girl–so happy you came over and shared your take. I knew you’d be upset about the whole thing, knowing your deep feelings for Perugia, and it’s understandable that you haven’t written about it.

    I tend to agree with you, particularly about Patrick as everything I’ve heard about him really doesn’t jibe with any of this. Of course who really knows, right?

    As for writing, I agree that creativity shouldn’t be stifled for fear of possible, potential misinterpretations later. It’s still a scary thought though.

  22. Poppy Fields

    I starting a comment a while ago, but ran out of time, so…We’ve been hearing about the case involving a Rom here in France, but what I’ve read about the student’s murder has been in American media. I suppose because the French have perceived problems with their immigrant communities, they are looking closely at what solutions Italy chooses to ease the tensions after the murder of an Italian citizen by a foreigner.

  23. Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy

    There’s obviously some missing info – these people couldn’t have thought they could murder someone and get away with it – a British national studying in Italy is a person with a very HIGH profile and accountability, even if they are a “nobody.”

    As for the Rom situation, it’s not easy for anyone. I do think that the “borderless” EU community can also leave some countries vulnerable to “drifters” (regardless of race) but they can also tighten their own laws and enforcement (for when a crime is committed) without resorting to mass-convictions and expulsion. I can’t imagine some of these problems happening in other countries, though without some sort of reaction.

    I’d love to see some numbers but in Milan the crimes I see (reported) are heavily-weighted and even the supermarket near me has been robbed at knifepoint several times by a group you left out – the Eastern Europeans. Also, Africans should probably read more “Northern Africans” as those are the groups that are really getting attention (for violent crimes).

    I think that Italy and Romania should have asked for help BEFORE Italy approved any of their own laws and reacted.

  24. Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy

    >I can’t imagine some of these >problems happening in other >countries, though without some sort >of reaction.

    What I mean is even a gradual, informed, etc., reaction when they realized it was a problem. Not a knee-jerk reaction.

  25. Beckie

    I am in WA state, but I have seen nothing about this in my hometown paper (no big surprise there).

    I’m off to check out your links. I learn a lot on your blog!

  26. Miss Mrs...a blog of everyday delights

    Oh gosh! You’re in my thoughts.

  27. Jeni

    Hadn’t heard anything on the news here (east coast) on this and have not yet read the links you provided either but I will have to do that. Any violent crime such as this -with so many other aspects to it that are problematic to the various cultures -like immigration (legal or not) just seem to take on lives of their own then and people can’t separate out the facts from the prejudices often involved. Cultural ignorance, economic conditions and various factors of that, education (or lack thereof) all become part of the equation too. All of us in the US with the exception of those who are Native Americans wear the label of immigrant some where in our ancestry and all too often, even today when we are supposedly an “enlightened” society, the old words, old names surface and are used in a degrading manner. Depending I suppose on where one lives in the US and how many “new” immigrants there are in that area has some bearing on people’s beliefs too. I got into an argument several years ago with the local barkeep here who was doing some heavy talking about immigrants, mainly Puerto Ricans (who really ARE NOT immigrants) and other hispanic or latino types, saying they should all be shipped back where they came from. He didn’t appreciate my comment that he and I then too come under that header as our ancestors were first generation immigrants at the end of the 19th century and early in the 20th century -we are both of mixed ancestry -his being Swedish and Slovak, mine being Swedish and Scottish – and I asked him where should we be sent -which country? King Solomon is long dead to decide to split us in half ya know.
    I do believe there should be stringent immigration requirements -making those coming here -or to any country come through legally – a pipe dream there I suppose. But, as long as there is so much poverty, starvation, lack of freedom in so many other countries, why aren’t people going to try to come here or wherever they believe has something a bit more to offer than does their homeland and it is understandable that those people will take whatever route they can to immigrate to wherever too. But – leave the old culture and the lack of civilization it may have had as prominent -behind and learn the laws, rules, regulations for living in whatever new country you have chosen too. Learn at least what it means to “do unto others” (which doesn’t have to be applied in a religious context but rather in a sociological one) and try your utmost to abide by that simple rule. That would or could or should apply to sexual activities as well, ya know.
    And, as to the things that get put out -whether by the individual or by the media or whoever -on the internet -if you, yourself, put something on there that, in the light of day or sobriety (whatever the case) would be in the least bit embarrassing to you or a family member, etc., then don’t do it and if you do, then be prepared to accept the consequences too. But the media also amplifies some of those things and makes mountain out of molehills at times too. So many issues can come into play here. I need to go read the articles and maybe be able to form some sort of reasonable ideas -if not conclusions. Key here though would be to try to see things from as many angles as possible I suppose.

  28. Steve Huff

    Thanks for linking the True Crime Weblog from this entry.

    This, to me, is one of the strangest murder cases I’ve ever known about. It only gets stranger, as now Mr. Lumumba says he has an alibi for the night in question and wasn’t even there. Which would leave only Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

    About that YouTube vid — I don’t know who is claiming to have found it, but prior to my posting it at The True Crime Weblog, I found no mention of the video anywhere in the news. And the Times, Mirror, and Independent have been reading my blog for ages, based on footprints in my statistics.

    Incidentally, I have mirrors of Amanda’s MySpace pages, if anyone wants to see.

    I don’t really know about anyone’s guilt or innocence in this case yet (though I’ve got suspicions) but I do believe too much has been made of Amanda’s fiction.

    Anyway, thanks for the link.


  29. Anonymous

    Hi, I had been following this story in the British newspapers while on vacation. The newspapers made a big deal out of the American girl’s rape story that was on her Facebook profile. They also printed a photo of her boyfriend dressed as a surgeon with a meat cleaver in one hand and a bottle of bleach in the other. Maybe it was his Halloween costume. When I read that the American girl was implicated in the British girl’s murder, I thought “oh, great, like the US needs more bad press ’round the world!”
    Hope you got/will get my postcard! I sent it Nov. 3.

  30. Ally

    As I’ve watched this story develop I can’t help but think about Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple character who always said that you can’t know what evil is within people. Seems like all the individuals involved in this horrible saga are examples of that fact. Very sad.

  31. Wanderlust Scarlett

    Oh, Sognatrice, I am so saddened and horrified to hear this!
    It hasn’t been in the news here.

    This story made me physically sick… how can it happen?

    I think that sharing the news in a general way (nothing too specific, to protect victims/families) is a way to increase awareness and encourage people to push for peace and safety; educate the public and the kids of today who will be authorities tomorrow- (if we don’t know things are wrong, we won’t try to fix them)…

    Big hugs, and I agree with you – I too am so very thankful that all my friends and family are safe today.

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  32. sognatrice

    *Meredith, yes unfortunately France and Italy have a lot in common in the immigration situation; would be nice if they could come up with some solution together.

    *Sara, I knew what you meant about the reaction, and I agree. Like we’ve been saying here, a lot of this is human nature after all.

    As for the groups, I don’t really hear much negative about Eastern Europeans (except Romanians) and I wrote simply Africans b/c I’ve seen quite a few reports (including this one) on the Congolese. We have a lot of Congolese down here, so maybe that’s why.

    From a discussion on Expats the other day, someone brought up that violent crime in Italy has actually dropped overall in the last 10 years or so (Interpol was the source). Not sure what that breaks down to by ethnic group committing them, but I always think to America and how it seems like minorities are the only ones who commit crimes there too….

    Anyway, I completely agree with your final point. I don’t understand why Italy didn’t go to the EU first other than political posturing, of course.

    *Beckie, there’s a lot to read, but it’s all fascinating, at least to me!

    *Miss Mrs, don’t worry about me–it’s the individuals and families of those involved in these stories that I think about.

    *Jeni, I’ve found it’s a pretty common reaction among 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Americans; I can only imagine it’s because they either don’t know or don’t care what their ancestors went through when they arrived. Thanks so much for your comment.

    *Steve, thanks for coming by with more info. I’ve updated my post to reflect the info on the alleged alibi as well as the mirror links (when I first posted this, they weren’t working for me which is why I didn’t include them). Also on the YouTube video, I believe I read in one of the Seattle P-I’s posts that the British media found it, but I’ve made it general in my post. I hope that’s agreeable for you as you state on your blog that you found it.

    I’ll be back to your page often, I’m sure.

    *Andrea, I thought something similar actually about Americans–we get a lot of bad raps these days, although at least we aren’t getting kicked out of countries. Yet.

    I got the postcard today in fact–grazie mille 🙂 Even funnier is that P and I were just talking about Parigi last night.

    *Scarlett, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but like you said, information is sometimes a good thing. Thank you for your thoughts, and hug your loved ones tight, OK?

  33. cheeky

    What a very sad state of affairs.
    Right now the only thing that really saddens me is the loss of this young woman. My prayers are with her family and what they are going through.

    I wholeheartedly agree that any information you choose to share on the internet is there for anyone to read and if you don’t like the idea then you need to make it private. Remembering, that even if it’s “private” it’s not off-limits as far as the law is concerned. Or maybe what I want to say, is that there are ways for others to gain access to our internet habits very easily if needed. I understand many employers now research prospective employees involvement on the internet.

    If you have nothing to hide then I don’t feel you have to worry about censoring any content. I know things can be twisted, misinterpreted and misconstrued. It would be very coincidental if, in fact, someone did write about “a certain subject” that they had no involvement in and later there was an actual case where they were somehow linked to the very same “certain subject”.

    I believe the evidence will prevail and the truth will be known. There is probably a trail of evidence, as is usually the case. Let’s hope they have concrete evidence to know what really transpired. Better yet, a confession from the person(s) who committed this horrible act.

    The immigration issue, well is just that. A whole other issue and topic that deserves it’s own platform.

    Thanks for a great post, as always.

  34. Steve Huff

    It will be really sad if Amanda Knox being an American OR if Mr. Lumumba’s being Congolese is considered a factor in any of this.

    I’m from Tennessee and I live in Georgia. I’m a white, protestant male. I’ve been around casual prejudice all my life. Eventually I became allergic to it.

    Crime stories are what prove to me over and over again that people kill for baseline reasons, and those reasons are usually wholly unrelated to their nationalities, skin color, etc (excluding war crimes, of course.)

    Most of the time it’s about sex or money, and no matter who did the killing here, it was probably about sex, this time. Briton, Italian, American, or African National, those personal crime motivations stay the same.

    At my own blog I won’t stanch any discussions of nationality, etc., but I do jump into the comments on this story and express my opinion on the matter if they come up.

    In the end, Meredith was murdered for motivations as old as humankind and that’s the saddest thing of all.

  35. Judith in Umbria

    Brava, Sogna!
    An important point not to miss in this story is that when the accused is a Romanian, they burn the houses from over the heads of some of the most pitiable people in Italy. The person who called the police was a Romanian woman who lived there in shacks made out of trash. Then someone gets killed in the street allegedly just because he’s Romanian, and many Romanians are here legally, work at jobs, marry and have Italian kids. That’s lynching.

    When the accused is some other national, confusion reigns, but no one thinks og burning my house because I am American, nor will I be attacked in the street because I am American.

    There’s a lot of prejudice here against Romanians and Albanians and anybody black.

    Raiuno had two discussion programs in a row in which they had victims tell their stories of being widowed or orphaned by Romanian or Rom drunk drivers or mad shooters. The bet affect was that all those crimes are caused by those two groups. The hostess of the show didn’t even seem to know that there is a difference between the two groups. Lots of Rom were born here and are Italian insofar as they are anything. Rom hate to be registered or part of an organized society other than their own. There are real problems with Rom, but it doesn’t necessarily have to do with Romania. Raiuno is paid for by a subscription fee we all have to pay, ergo, our money paid for hate mongering TV.

    Identifying a group and stirring up hate against them is just so wrong in so many ways I haven’t been able to marshal my thoughts and my rejection of it well enough to write about it.

    PS also in the latest news was that the Knox girl had frightened the British girl by bringing many different strange men into the apartment. She’d complained about it regularly. No one yet has said why the roommates werem’t there.

    It’s just the seamiest and seediest thing there is about Italy, except for perhaps the politicians.

    Romania is about to become a member of the EC and then every single one of them will have the right to be here as much as Romania. I think the EC better get busy figuring out how to fairly handle this movement of poor populations quickly. They come from desperation and from a place in which life has been very violent.

  36. Anonymous

    sent chills down my spine! this could’ve be any study abroad student. :o( also chilling is that that girl’s myspace can be ‘mirrored’ and that anyone can view it! another reminder to be careful about you say and do on the internet!

    -from california

  37. Jen of A2eatwrite

    And now, in the U.S. anyone of Arab descent or who follows Islam is automatically under suspicion, and we still have the racism going on based on skin color and now bad blood between disenfranchised minorities, on top of everything else.

    My Swedish exchange daughter wrote a very interesting piece on her blog today that’s not speaking about the same thing, but about how our global society is going wrong with hate…

  38. J.Doe

    Italy does have a right to makes rules as to who enters, whether they be EU citizens or not.
    The United States was founded by Immigrants. LEGAL immigrants.
    Every country has the right to decide who enters their borders and hopefully will throw out those that don’t belong there.

  39. Anali

    So many different important issues you brought up here, but it’s late, so I’m just going to touch on one. Unfortunately, I think there will always be bigotry and prejudice. People seem to always find some difference to hate someone for. Being black, I’ve experienced prejudice since I was a child. I thought that race was the only reason that people hated.

    Then I learned about anti-Semitism and learned that it was religion and ethnicity. Then I learned about Northern Ireland. I figured if people who are all white and Christian could still hate each other, then there would always be something that people would find. Very sad.

  40. sognatrice

    *Cheeky, very sad and I suppose it would be rather coincidental to caught up in a similar situation (that you actually didn’t have a part in). But what if I wrote about setting fire to an ex-boyfriend’s (character’s) place, someone read it, and then did it? Anyway, like you said, if you have nothing to hide, it certainly makes these decisions on what to write/post, etc., much easier.

    I had intended to do a whole post on the Romanian/Rom situation and then I couldn’t stop myself from mentioning it here, so I went with it. Plus I think it was good for me to get a vent out all together rather than let it string into a few days of feeling blah. I truly do get so upset over these things, I have to shield myself from it somewhat or my whole life becomes miserable. Maybe that’s selfish, but I prefer “self-preservation.”

    *Steve, I completely agree with your first sentence. And coming from America, and being a lawyer to boot, this idea is ingrained in my very being.

    But with all due respect, you must understand that this happened in Italy, and the same ideals simply aren’t present here. In Italy, differences in races are almost always stressed, particularly when reporting crimes, especially if there’s a dark skin color involved (ironic, eh, since so many Italians are just as dark as other typically “dark-skinned” races?).

    It’s really hard for someone living in Italy to separate this out because we know that’s what the media is looking at (I think you can see this in the comments on here from those of us who live in Itayl)…and, as you said yourself, it looks like Lumumba may not have even been there at all. So why did an Italian (assuming Sollecito had something to do with this) and an American (again, an assumption) feel they could bring him into it (if this is indeed what happened)?

    For me, the answer is easy. Because many Italians believe Albanians, Romanians, and Africans, particularly North Africans, are criminals. It’s sad, pathetic, and embarrassing for me to write as a resident and citizen of Italy, but it’s true.

    And you talked about racism in the US, and of course it still exists there. But in Italy, we’re talking about the equivalent of burning crosses on the lawns (actually burning of people’s homes here) and lynching (angry knife-wielding mobs) right now, and that’s American 50 years ago. So the situation is really quite different.

    Thanks for coming back and commenting; I’ll be keeping up on your site as well.

    *Judith, I recommend, no beg you to copy and paste this comment and post it on your blog to get more people talking. You may not think you’re expressing everything as you wish, but it’s pretty darn fantastic from where I’m sitting.

    You make excellent points–especially about the retaliation crimes against suspected perpetrators of crimes. And I think you know how I feel about Italian media, in general, but you’re right–when it’s RAI, it’s even worse. At least on the Berlu channels, he’s footing the bill.

    I hadn’t heard that about Knox bringing in all different men; the truth will come out, I’m sure, as more people who were part of their everyday lives start speaking.

    I believe that both of the roommates were Italian? Maybe they were just fare-ing il ponte that weekend?

    *California, that’s exactly what I thought about the study abroad student; I can’t imagine what her parents and family are going through. And the mirroring? I know! I had no idea that was possible either.

    *Jen, exactly. I’m looking forward to reading your “daughter’s” post.

    *JDoe, thanks for offering your opinion, although I think it goes much further than making rules on who can come in and who can’t and then enforcing them.

    To me, it’s an issue of providing basic services to the poorest of your society–and here I’m not talking only about immigrants. I live in Calabria, remember, which is one of the poorest regions in the country, and there’s a lot of room for improvement here as well. Indeed, IMHO, this is one reason why so many Italians are anti-immigrant–their own government barely helps them out (not talking about welfare-type programs, I’m talking about the economy, jobs, the fact that prices have doubled but salaries have stayed the same), so there’s a lot of resentment as well.

    Anyway, I take it you’re not of the John Lennon “Imagine there are no countries” viewpoint 😉

    *Anali, so true, and this goes back to what Steve said above about the murder being because of the basest of motivations and I agree. There are some horrible things about human nature like hate and greed that will always cause problems in society. Very sad indeed.

    Thank you all so much for commenting.

  41. Italian Woman

    Hope this doesn’t appear twice. My previous one disappeared or something.

    I’m in Seattle, where this is front-page news: “Judge to decide Friday whether UW student should continue to be held in slaying in Italy”

    But Seattle is a big city in a big country. People will say, “It’s weird. It’s horrible. What the hell happened? It’s so sad.” Then they return to the usual gripes: the Iraq war stinks, the stock market is in free fall, we hate our president and the dollar is in the toilet.

    We have no shortage of violent crime. Today’s topper: A Chicago cop’s fourth wife has disappeared and police may dig up his third wife’s grave to see if he murdered her. Hence the CNN headline: 1 wife missing. 1 wife dead: exhume body?

    In the Perugia murder, nobody here sees an immigration issue, since the focus is on the two girls and neither was an immigrant (little mention is made of the Congolese suspect). The fact that they were young and pretty gives the story traction. Rape/murder happens everywhere, especially in the Congo, where women are being raped by radical factions even as we speak.

    I worry that Knox, whose online presence is sweet, will not get a fair trial. Today, Italian police said her DNA was on the scene, but she lived with the murdered girl, no? So that would be normal.

    The date rape scenario she wrote about does occur on college campuses and elsewhere: “The young man drugged a woman, raped her, and showed no remorse.” That doesn’t mean Knox found rape exciting or was plotting anything. Maybe she was a rape victim herself. We don’t know.

    Nor was she a stereotypical rich American girl, although that is the subtext of much of the reporting and will not help her in the courtroom. Friends say she worked two jobs to put herself through school.

    Perugia is one of Seattle’s sister cities, and a Seattle delegation was in Perugia when the murder occurred. Her mother is there now.

    Both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times have excellent coverage, much of it by young female journalists who get the Internet.

    So far the murdered girl has been ignored, since Knox makes a better story. But at least they’re not doing the usual blame the victim stuff.

    Thanks, Sognatrice, for writing about this and the larger issue of racism in Italy. I learned a lot.

  42. african vanielje

    I’m not sure what my comment on the awful murder is as I don’t know enough about the story, but about refugees, hatred and xenophobia I know a little. When I spoke to my mom a few days ago and she told me about, Adonis Musati , a young Zimbabwean refugee who starved to death in a refugee shelter whilst waiting in a queue to be processed, I cried. I cried with shame for my country and how we treat each other – active hatred having moved on to apathetic hatred which is just as damaging. I cried for the senseless loss of one more among the hundreds of thousands, and I cried with despair, because I donate money to different causes, many of them African, I am horrified by many of the things that happen in my country as are most people I know, we talk, we blog we sign petitions, but I cried with despair because I don’t know how to fix it or even if it will ever be fixed. The thing about African refugees is that they don’t think they are coming to a land of milk and honey, or streets paved with gold, they are just desperately hoping that they can go to sleep at night with at least one meal inside them and the knowledge that they have a better than average chance of making it through the night. THey are not greedy, lazy, avaricious, bent on spending our hard earned tax-dollars. They are just desperate, and they are just people.

  43. american girl in italy

    I have gone through many different thoughts as to what the heck happened since this story broke. Now, based on the latest info available, I am starting to think that the American and her Italian boyfriend are the two responsible.

    At first I couldn’t believe she had anything to do with it, I mean, come on, a 20 year old Seattle student studying in Italy? It was bizarro.

    But now, I am feeling like Amanda and Raffaele are trying to frame/place blame on the Congolese, Patrick. Parick was Amanda’s boss. Apparently he has 16 witnesses that he was working in his bar that night, and they haven’t found any evidence he was there that night. Amanda also says that she can’t remember if her boyfriend was at her house that night, but she awoke in his apartment in the morning. Either she is covering for him, or she was super high and/or wasted.

    Patrick, 37 years old, married with a baby, and owner of a bar, and musician, just doesn’t make sense to me. The only way I figured he *fit* into this scene was if he was a drug dealer.

    The most logical thing to me, at this point, based on the little bit of news we have, is that Amanda came to Italy, got involved with Raffaele, and drugs, and something went terribly wrong and freaky that night. Or perhaps she was with another guy that night, and hasn’t named him for many reasons? Or maybe it was Patrick. B’oh. Weird. Who knows. Only time will tell.

    I heard on the news that they had a bunch of pot plants growing in the garden, and that Amanda had lots of guys over all the time. I figure it was to party, and do drugs…

    It is definitely sad.

  44. sognatrice

    *Italian Woman, thanks for commenting; yes, I have also seen the unfortunate story of the cop’s wife being missing. You’re in a unique position being in Seattle where one of the suspects is from. Truth be told, any kind of immigration/nationality issues aren’t really being played up in Italy either–it’s just that the *other* big murder story going on right now is so laden with immigration/ethnic issues that it’s hard to not see some irony between the two cases. At least for me.

    Anyway, FWIW, Kercher has been focused on a bit more in British press.

    All very sad.

    *Inge, thanks for such a heartfelt comment; your words are always beautiful, and this paragraph is no exception. If only there were more people like you in the world.

    *Sara, stories keep changing, and now (care of Judith in Umbria) I see that there’s more:

    Fourth person hunted over Italy sex murder

    The judge’s report is also linked there; interesting stuff.

  45. Stelle in Italia

    great post. thanks for posting this. it’s interesting to read the updated info about the perugia case, and also interesting to read your thoughts about immigration in the country of italy, where I’m an immigrant as well.

  46. cheeky

    Good point. I didn’t think of it in that respect. If someone had it out for you they could frame you. I never thought of it because I don’t ever see myself writing any fiction material, per say, about “what if scenarios”. My mind just doesn’t go there. Also, I am not a writer.

    I know what you mean about letting things out rather than allowing them to brew and fester making you miserable. We have emotions and feelings. If we didn’t I’d be concerned. Look forward to that post. I’m sure you will have gathered good insight.

  47. Italian Woman

    I’m learning about the Italian legal system as events unfold. From Seattle, I see these differences:
    1. Knox seems to have been questioned for many hours in her prison call without access to an attorney. Unless she waived her rights, an American judge would throw out her confession.

    2. She and the other suspects can be held for a year without charges. In the U.S., they would have to be charged before they could be held. Maybe some lawyer out there can tell us exactly how that works.

    3. The press is not supposed to be naming her at this point. “The Seattle Times does not name people suspected of a crime until they have been charged. But Knox is being named because her friends have spoken … “ an article began yesterday.
    4. Nobody’s mentioned drugs, but I find lots of stories suddenly make sense when alcohol and other drugs are factored in, especially among college students. The events are so chaotic, illogical and poorly planned. They seemed to have unfolded quickly. So if Knox was impaired in some way she may not know exactly how it went so horribly wrong. What are the recreational drugs available in that social set in Perugia?
    P.S. Student from Seattle to remain in jail in Italian death probe

  48. Lilymane

    What an incredible discussion to stumble upon! Thank you, Sognatrice for your thoughtful post and to your commenters for the conversation. I had’t had time to check out the blogs in the Italy lovers group until tonight. While I was perhaps expecting lighter fare, I am not sorry to have found this post. I have done some research and written some essays on the Roma, their customs, their system of justice, and the persecution they face. My interest and those essays came out of my month’s stay in Rome 21 years ago. I hadn’t heard of the Roma (other than the word “gypsy”) before that! I am saddened and upset by the events but glad there is such serious consideration being given to them by so many people all over. I think blogging/the internet can connect people from far off corners on myriad levels but I think that very connectivity brings its own set of issues. The observations about what ways your online presence can be used against you and about living your online life authentically in the face of that were very interesting. I look forward to reading many more of your intriguing posts – and thanks for starting the Italy lover’s group. I threw my coins in the Trevi fountain and am trying to wait patiently for my return trip to Bella Italia to materialize. Peace.
    PS – I do have to add, it very much freaked me out to see Steve Huff’s name in this discussion! He’s my pal from the 8th grade. We’ve talked about working on a project together, but he’s been so busy. Now I know he’s been busy getting famous! I shouldn’t be surprised he has such a wide audience because he’s a passionate investigator and he’s a dedicated writer but – Dude, I knew him when!)

  49. sognatrice

    Just realized that I skipped Ally’s comment above, so:

    *Ally, so true! Great connection there, especially as we’re talking about what’s written in fiction becoming fact….

    *Stelle, thanks for coming over, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I think our position as immigrants, but immigrants who aren’t treated the same as other immigrants is an interesting one to say the least. I’d love to read other expats’ takes on things like this too.

    *Cheeky, see I’m a writer *and* a lawyer, so the “what if” scenarios can’t be stopped from going on in my head. Sometimes they get absurd, but sadly in today’s world, a lot of that absurdity is becoming reality.

    *Italian Woman, I’m certainly no expert on Italian law, but I do know a bit about American, so I’ll tell you what I know, and hopefully someone who knows more about Italian law especially can chime in:

    1. Yes, in America we have the “Miranda warning” (anything you say can and will be used against you), so unless she had waived this in America, her confession probably wouldn’t be admissible as evidence (there are exceptions as with everything–not every communication between police and a suspect needs to be preceded by the Miranda). Anyway, in Italy I’m not aware of any such requirement that someone has to be notified of their right to an attorney before being interrogated. On the other hand, suspects always have the right to not answer any questions (except basic information like name, address–remember in Italy, you can be stopped and asked for ID just because the police feel like it) without an attorney even in Italy.

    2. I believe in America, you can generally be held for 48 hours without being charged (although terrorist suspects have gotten different treatment), whereas in Italy, yes, up to a year.

    3. I believe the decision to not name a suspect is done on a publication by publication basis; I don’t know of any law against it in Italy or America–indeed, suspects (before being charged) seem to be named all the time in both countries, often at the point of arrest.

    4. If you read the UK Telegraph coverage, they’ve been mentioning drugs from the get-go. Hashish and marijuana, specifically, and there were even marijuana plants growing outside of the cottage where the girls lived, apparently. Both Knox and Sollecito have reportedly admitted to smoking hashish/marijuana that night, and in fact, both blame it for their faulty memories.

    I recommend watching the UK Telegraph coverage; they seem to be on top of things and reporting fairly. I don’t know what’s in the Seattle papers, but I’ve read that Knox’s fingerprint was found on Kercher’s face and the judge believes this means Knox was holding down Kercher in an alleged sexual attack. And now it seems that Lumumba’s alibi isn’t so strong as it first seemed, for instance; also the purported murder weapon was found in Sollecito’s apartment. There was also a mistaken text message sent to someone in Rome before the murder that said something to the effect that “Meredith” will die today or tomorrow.

    Quickly developing stuff.

    *Lilymane, I’m glad you came over! I normally actually don’t post something so serious, but every now and again, life warrants it. Your work on the Roma population sounds really interesting; if you still have anything around that you’ve written, I’d love to read it.

    And what a coincidence about Steve Huff! Small world, as we are continually reminded with the internet.

  50. Paha Sapa

    History correction. The largest MASS HANGING in US History was the 38 Santee “Sioux” Indian men Dec. 16, 1862. 303 Indian males were set to be hanged but President Lincoln reduced the number. Here are a couple of links pertaining to American Indian History in the United States, keeping in mind that in America, American Indians were the first victims of racism, discrimination, slavery, and genocide and still suffer to this day. Good blog you have here! Thanks. Here are the links AND

    Richard Boyden, Independence Missouri

  51. sognatrice

    Paha Sapa, thanks for your visit and for the correction; you should write to NIAF as well as that’s where I got that information from (click on the link in the post). I’ll edit the post now.

    Somewhere here in the comments, in fact, I did refer to American Indians suffering the very first prejudices (to put it mildly) in America–and yes, suffer still to this day.

    Thanks again for stopping by!

  52. Anonymous

    Clearly you have two separate types of cultures confused. Italy is not obligated to disappear under the weight of immigrants – something that will eventually happen, if unlimited immigration is permitted. The United States is the home of the various tribes who lived there for a long time. Then the Europeans came, conquered the land by force, imposed their own rules, and opened this – the home of the first nations of America – to essentially unlimited immigration. Having brought black slaves, it was only fair from a colonist’s point of view, after the civil rights movement came to pass, to go multicultural. But what has been done to the homeland of the native “Americans”, who have not been along on this project on a consensual basis? Italy, on the other hand, is the native homeland of the “Roman” peoples. Many countries in Europe are the native homelands – the “reservations” and strongholds of various and diverse important cultures. The Finns and the Swedes and the Germans and the Italians and the Basques and the Samis have the right to remain essentially Finns and Swedes and Germans and Italians and Basques and Samis. There is a distinct possibility that many cultures will simply be obliterated under the pressure (Estonian is for all intents and purposes a dying language, the Chinese are obliterating the Tibetans). Relentless multiculturalism beyond a certain point is an eraser that rubs out the many families of mankind. The smaller the culture, the more in peril. The American formula is not “one size fits all”. It is not carved in stone – it is not morally superior to beleive – that all societies must become a melange and that in the future there will be only one big melting pot some pidgin language is spoken.

  53. G

    Great post…I’m glad I checked in today. I’ve missed reading your blog.

  54. sognatrice

    *Anonymous, thanks for commenting.

    To the contrary, I don’t have the two cultures confused at all. I’m quite aware that Italy has a horrible history of integration dating back thousands of years. You say this is the land of the Romans and yet perhaps you’re forgetting that the Greeks were here first, just a few miles from where I now live in fact. Then there were the Spanish, French, Arabs….

    Indeed, southern Italy has been most influenced by the influx of different cultures and dare I say, has benefited greatly. The food, language, and customs of southern Italy reflect many cultures–but a lot of blood has been shed to get to this point. I, for one, would prefer not to see that happen again.

    I don’t think anyone has said that the American (or Australian or English) model of immigration is perfect or even replicable for Italy or Europe, but I don’t see how one can deny that there are many positives that those countries have achieved by accepting immigrants (including Italians) into their mainstream cultures. The reality is that Italy is part of the EU and until it works out these issues with the governing body of the EU, these problems will continue.

    The obliteration of culture has never really been a strong argument to me since cultures are constantly evolving anyway whether it’s from inside or outside forces. I live in one of the most traditional parts of Italy where we still have nearly weekly processions but is it the same as 50 years ago? 100? 1000? Certainly not, and not all of that is attributable to different cultures moving in–in fact, nearly NO new cultures have moved in here for a LONG time. A lot of it is simply evolution of different ideas and beliefs. One only look to the state of the Catholic Church to see how time affects social and religious structures.

    Sorry, but when people start talking about keeping cultures/languages/customs pure (the concept of a “pidgin” language is offensive on so many levels not the least of which is that some Americans actually speak a language called Pidgin–thus keeping THEIR culture alive), I start thinking about Hitler and Aryans, and I know I’m not alone. Embracing differences is not the same as sacrificing your own culture, and I wish more Italians (and other Europeans) would consider this.

    From a personal example, I grew up in an Italian-American family in America, 100 years removed from Italy, and our Italian traditions, for the most part, stayed intact. The language didn’t because my ancestors wanted their children to be “American,” but just about everything else was picked up from Calabria and dropped in America. It takes some effort, but if it’s important enough to you, it’s not actually very difficult.

    If we continue to divide along lines of culture, religion, nationality, etc., there’s simply no hope for the world as all of the violence and killing will continue. As we’ve talked about many times throughout the comments, hatred and prejudice is age-old, but now we have weapons that can literally wipe out the world and that makes these divisions all the more dangerous.

    *G, happy to see you as well! Can’t wait to catch up on what’s been happening with you (other than the whole citizenship thing–woohoo!) 🙂

  55. Italy Logue

    “As a result of this racist and sensationalist journalism many, many Italians think that the majority of “extracomunitari” are criminals when most of them IMO work difficult, badly paid but essential jobs like cleaning, babysitting, digging ditches, picking tomatoes etc- which Italians these days turn their noses up at.”

    This is the same argument used in the US with regard to Mexican immigrants, and while there’s some truth to it, it’s not so simple. If jobs like this were actually paid a living wage (and if we consider them to be important jobs which help our society function at the level we prefer they *should* be paid a living wage) then they wouldn’t be “the jobs no one wants.” The high unemployment rates in the US and Italy suggest to me that it’s not a matter of natives not being willing to do the work, but of immigrants (some illegal, some on the verge of being so) being more willing to work for less money.

  56. Anonymous

    I think it’s been clarified that Lumumba is 44, not mid-30’s as originally reported. It’s reported that NO physical evidence links him to the flat—not one of the 120 prints is Lumumba’s, and several reporters say there is no other physical evidence against him.

    He’s a peaceful citizen with no known criminal history, father of a baby boy, married, a businessman, beloved in the community. Suddenly he meets Knox and turns into a murderous rapist? I don’t think so.

    Why is he being held on the word of a proven liar, who has given multiple events of what happened that night?

    The coroner says Meredith engaged in consensual (or possibly “intimidatory”) sex prior to death. Whose DNA was found on her body?

  57. Judith in Umbria

    We all seem ready to solve this mystery in Perugia don’t we?

    Italy follows the Napoleonic code, more or less, with alterations over the years. The accused here has a duty to prove himself innocent as much as the law has the duty to prove him guilty.

    They are being held because of a law which provides for doing so if there is a likelihood of the person fleeing or tampering with evidence. Both things seem applicable here, and that may not jibe with the US law I know– very little really– but it is Italian law.

    From the surface, an ordinary person like me cannot see why any of the people so far involved would do this crime. I heard it called a crime of impulse on a talk show, but who has the impulse to rape an acquaintance? Who thinks forced sex is exciting? Who thinks using weapons to force sex is exciting? Who would have imagined that a bourgeois town like Perugia would find three or four with those impulses finding each other and against all common sense, end up with three people from three different countries doing murder for thrills? You couldn’t write this in fiction, because it’s just too unlikely.

  58. Rob

    Thank you for discussing what is currently a very topical and sensitive subject in the UK, Ireland and Italy. There seems to be a new theory every day as to what happened to that young girl, and of the level of involvement of the three suspects. I do believe the police have now firmly established the presence of all three suspects in the apartment at the time of the murder. We will just have to wait and see where this goes…

    As to online content and its implications – I do believe that you have to be careful, for a number of reasons, first would be identity theft (a growing problem in Europe), the second the huge number of quite frankly unstable personalities online, and the likelihood of your employer (current or future) finding you online (which is why I almost never speak about work on my blog and removed my profile pic as well). Background checks of prospective employees in some companies now also includes a webtrawl to see if they have a presence online.

    As a writer you should not shy away from sensitive topics, but you should make it clear that it is a work of fiction/research/etc so that people cannot be at risk of taking it up the wrong way.

    Re the xenophobia in Italy – that has been around for years. I have seen ticket clerks in Termini in Rome refuse to sell train tickets to Africans, I know a Greek woman who has lived in Italy for over 30 years, is married to an Italian and has 2 children, and is still seen as an ‘outsider’.

    None of this is new. The hatred of Albanians has been there for ages, so too I suspect the issues with the Romanians (who are despised in Ireland as well) and the Africans (ditto again in Ireland). What is different perhaps is the amount of media coverage these issues are now getting.

    The only way to address issues of xenophobia/racism is through education and integration.

  59. Judith in Umbria

    I wonder if anyone else saw “Porta a Porta” last night? I was stunned at how ignorant the pundits were of blogs and what they mean.

    According to Vespa and some others, a blog is a personal diary in which you spill your guts in public because no one in your real life will listen to you. It’s a phenomenon of the younger generation because they’ve been indulged all their lives and therefore have been unable to learn genuine emotions or know the value of anything.

    I want to write Vespa a letter but I can’t get cool enough to know where to start.

  60. sognatrice

    *Italy Logue, this is so very true. It’s so important that we value labor that is truly critical to our survival–I’m afraid, though, that some of those who get paid a lot for doing little for the common good would have to give up some of theirs…and that doesn’t seem likely unfortunately.

    *Anonymous, I wish I had more answers; today I just saw that Kercher had some DNA of someone else on her. Hopefully that will help clear things up. I’m a bit behind b/c I was without the internet and TV only covers so much, so I have some catching up to do.

    *Judith, you’re so right–you couldn’t write something like this because where is the motivation? Mah.

    *Rob, I completely agree with your conclusion. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and giving your perspective.

    *Judith, I didn’t see Porta a Porta. Vespa isn’t one of my favorites in general, but wow. I was going to watch Matrix last night as they were focusing on the story too, but I couldn’t stay awake 🙁

  61. american girl in italy

    Judith – I saw that Porta Porta and I was practically screaming at the TV. It was bugging me so bad, listening to these *experts* discuss the youth and problems and blogs, etc. They had no idea what they were talking about! I seriously wanted to call the show! haha

    WRT immigrants in Italy – it is a shame that a few can ruin it for the rest. For example, the Romanians. There are many who work, and live a normal life in Italy. But then there are the gypsies who live in the tent cities or trailers or the shacks. I believe that many, if not most, of the immigrants that come here want to work, and succeed. I also believe that there are some who do not. They are reflective of any society, whether they are here, US or their own country. Every race has good people, and bad.

    I was watching a program the other night, and the reporter was interviewing a bunch of young men, from Morocco, who are living in a shack type place. One man has been here for three years, never had a job, and his entire family is in Morocco. The report was designed to make you feel sorry for these men. She was trying to build sympathy for them, because they are poor and have no jobs.

    But, after some thought, I wondered WHY they are here. This one man’s ENTIRE family is in Morocco. He has never found work. He has no money, no decent home, and no job. SO, how does he survive? Why is he here and why has he stayed for three years? It left me thinking that he is either a criminal in Morocco, or he is a criminal here. Or both. He was healthy, dressed in clean clothes, and eats. He is surviving somehow.

    I also wonder the logic of some immigrants that complain that they come here to find work, because they cannot find it in their own country, and they cannot find any here. Why should they expect to find work in a foreign country, when they can’t in their own? Perhaps it is hard everywhere. Or perhaps they have no skills? We hear *sad case* stories a lot, but I would like to hear the background, the details. Of course I know that racism exists, and some immigrants find it impossible to find work. I found it difficult to find work. I am too old, and my Italian is not great. If I had to rely on a job here, I would probably have to move back to Seattle.

    I have seen programs where immigrants will complain because no one will rent to them. However, I have heard horror stories, and seen firsthand, apartments that were rented to immigrants. They either end up squatting for years, or completely ruining the apartment. So… as a landlord, what do you do? Two of my husband’s families apartments were rented by immigrants from two different countries, and the condition we found them in were the most disgusting things I have ever seen in my life. They spent tens of thousands of euros to repair the damage.

    Unfortunately when someone, such as a Romanian or Moroccan commits a crime, the public accuses the entire race. I do believe that there are many immigrants who are fleeing terrible situations, and seeking a better opportunity somewhere else. But there are also many that I have to question their motives.

    When I applied to be able to stay in Italy, we had to go through a lot of hoops. My husband had to prove that he could afford to support me. We pay taxes, etc. I think it is very upsetting to many here, to see gypsies living for free on the land that they squat on, some have jobs but work in the black, and the gypsies mostly survive by stealing.

    When that woman was killed in Rome by the Romanian, and then the police demolished the shack city, it perhaps seemed like an overreaction. But I don’t think those shack cities should exist at all. I don’t think that certain people should be able to live outside the law, especially in a country where they are a guest. The laws should be equal for all – the good and the bad.

    And as far as the Perugia murder story is unfolding, it is making more sense now, with the arrest of the fourth guy. I still think Patrick is innocent, and the other three guilty.

  62. sognatrice

    Sara, I recently came across an article in an Italian magazine from about a year and a half ago all about aspiring authors turning to blogs; I’m not sure what Vespa and his researchers were looking at when investigating the blogging phenomenon in Italy b/c the piece I read was rather positive.

    You’re right that the immigrant situation is complicated; unfortunately there are many people who take advantage of the system and live through stealing and otherwise cheating…and they’re of every nationality in every country. It’s not an easy topic, to be sure.

    As for the Perugia murder, I see now that they’ve released the Congolese bar owner; looks like the other African immigrant has an uphill battle to show he didn’t do it. Sounds like the other two are still somehow involved though; maybe now that this guy is in custody, the other two will start telling the real story.

  63. american girl in italy

    Immigration problem a difficult one indeed. I agree, some take advantage, and some no.

    Remember the family and neighbor that were killed in vicinity of Como earlier? Everyone thought the Tunisian did it, the media was already calling him guilty. Then they found him, and he was out of the country. The murderers were the Italian neighbors, a husband and wife. Or remember the Italians that kidnapped and killed little Tommy?

    Italians (and everyone) need to understand that their are crap people everywhere, in every culture….

    I think this new Rudy “has some ‘splainin’ to do” wrt his bloody fingerprints being on Meredith’s pillow, and his treats in the toilet. (gross!) haha You know, that just seems so sick and twisted to me that he rapes and killed her, and then leaves behind his *treats* in the bathroom. I feel like it is an animal leaving his mark or something. I mean the whole thing is twisted, but that just added a really weird twist to him, IMHO.

  64. sognatrice

    Sara, I’m completely with you on the treats left behind. I found that rather weird and disgusting as well. I guess I can hope that he was just so out of it on some drug that he forgot to flush? Ew.

    Anyway, I have noticed that many media outlets have actually shied away saying anything about the poop, sticking to the “other DNA in the bathroom” line, sometimes even pointing to toilet paper (which I’m sure was also there with prints–fingerprints!). Can we not handle the poop?

    OK, bad to joke about such an awful situation.

    I just hope the other two start telling the truth; it sounds to me like perhaps they were afraid of this guy so long as he was on the lam…wonder if they still are.

    I just hope Meredith’s family can find some closure.

  65. american girl in italy

    hahaha I actually had written poop on your blog, but changed it to treats. I didn’t want to messy up your blog. ahhaah

    You know, even if Amanda was so drugged out, and doesn’t remember exactly what happened, or whatever, you think she would have been a little more freaked out the next morning. The pics of her and her bf kissing, and seeing normal, just don’t ring true. There are SOOO many weird things about this case. Sad, but I must say, interesting!

  66. sognatrice

    Sara, well I do appreciate your efforts to keep my blog “clean” 😉

    And I completely agree with you about Knox’s reactions following what happened; from all accounts she was as cool as the proverbial cucumber and whether she had a part in it or not, well, that’s a bit odd. Of course I always say we never know how we’d react in a similar situation, so I don’t like to judge other people’s reactions *too* much. But still!

    That knife found in Sollecito’s apartment with both her and Kercher’s DNA–that’s going to be tough to explain since Kercher had reportedly never been to his apartment. Doesn’t seem she’ll be getting out of custody any time soon.

    Another thing which is rather minor, but it’s still bugging me– we all keep saying her “boyfriend”…they knew each other for 2-3 weeks! I don’t really have more of a comment on that, but I just think back to when I was dating and when 2-3 weeks hardly meant bf.

    But maybe I’m just an old fuddy duddy 😉

    Did you see they’ve been discussing this over on the Expat board now?

  67. american girl in italy

    I just had to write you and tell you to come read an anonymous post someone left on my blog under “patrick lumbaya released” very bizarro.

  68. sognatrice

    Sara, um, yes, a bit out of nowhere, I’d agree. You responded well.

    I just read something over at Corriere della Sera (the Italian version) in which she wrote out yet another version of events. She says she had “flashes” of Lumumba in the apartment, etc. She also says Italian police hit her on the head when she didn’t remember things….

    Rudy says he went back to the apartment with Meredith, felt bad, went to the bathroom, left his “evidence” and while in there, heard screams, etc. Says it was an Italian who killed her and then escaped.

    Very interesting, as always.

  69. Italian Woman

    I’ve been trying to give Amanda the benefit of the doubt, because I live in Seattle and she looks like a typical Seattle girl,athletic, healthy, granola. On the ferry over to my brother’s for Thanksgiving yesterday I saw so many girls who look like her.

    But then I learn that she and the boyfriend were shopping for thong panties after the murder. And engaging in PDA.

    I no longer believe anything she says. Expect that she was telling the truth when she said that she doesn’t get embarrassed.

  70. sognatrice

    Italian Woman, I hear you. I’m *very* “innocent until proven guilty” sometimes even to a fault, but this isn’t looking good for Knox. She (or someone) really needs to explain *why* her memory is so poor and scattered otherwise it just looks like all a bunch of lies.

    On the bright side for her, the new man arrested (who was *definitely* there at the time of the murder) has said she wasn’t there. Of course that would lead to wonder why she remembers covering her ears from Kercher’s screams….

    I read in the Italian news yesterday that more witnesses are coming forward who heard commotion, that there was likely another female in the apartment because of a print in the blood of a stiletto, and more.

    Such a sad, tragic mystery.

  71. sognatrice

    More info coming out. Guede says that the Meredith whispered the killer’s name before she died and that as he struggled with the alleged killer, the brown-haired, no glasses-wearing Italian said to him “They will think that it is you because you are black.”

    Article at

  72. Italian Woman

    “They will think that it is you because you are black.”

    Does this comment sound more believable in the original Italian? Because in English it sounds totally made up.

    Maybe, maybe if I’d just killed somebody I’d have time to say, “They’re gonna blame the black.” Which is how we’d say it in America. But I doubt it. I’d just get the hell out of there before people discovered who I was.

    Anyway, are Italian killers just more polite in their language? Is that why I just don’t believe a word of it?

  73. sognatrice

    *Italian Woman, from what I understand they are paraphrasing what was allegedly said both in English and Italian even though it’s in quotes. In the Italian publications, they write that Guede says the alleged killer said ‘something to the effect of’ “They’ll blame you because you’re black.” They don’t say exactly what he alleges was said.

    In that sense, I wouldn’t take too much from how awkward the phrasing is–we don’t know exactly what it was in Italian either.

    Using my creative brain, it could’ve been something as simple as “Sei fottuto nero” (“You’re screwed, black man”) which would imply what the newspapers have reported but be more colloquial. I just don’t know. The fact is that they haven’t reported the exact quote even in Italian, at least that I’ve seen; I don’t know why.

  74. michelle

    I’m closing comments here as I’ve shut down comments on all Knox-related posts for now; if you have something to add to the discussion, please feel free to contact me.

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake