“Why do I call myself a n*gga you ask me, because police always wanna harass me” – Niggaz 4 Life, NWA
“60% of the youth from the periphery with no criminal records have already suffered police violence” – “Capítulo 4, Versículo 3” – Racionais Mc’s
Note from BW of Brazil: It’s no secret that in Brazil, the Military Police can be brutal in its treatment of poor people. And as the majority of poor are preto (black) or pardo (brown), it should come as no surprise that this population bears the brunt of harassment, stop and search and murder. In the most recent example of this, in the city of Vitória, the capital city of Espírito Santo (southeast Brazil), a group of youngsters became of aware of this (if they didn’t already know), in a humiliating way. Many non-white youth are aware of the fact that their class and skin color makes them more likely to be killed in Brazil. For example, in his classic investigation of the crimes of Brazil’s Military Police, Rota 66, journalist Caco Barcellos interviewed a young man to get his thoughts on the situation.
– I don’t know how I’m still alive, Caco. They only kill the young, poor and mulatos like me
– Calm down. Young and poor, yes. But they also kill whites.
– Only if you are accompanied by a black or brown.
– You’re exaggerating.
– You say this because you’re white.
– We need to investigate to make sure, it’s the only way …
– Waste of time. I see it there: the majority are corpses of mulatos. You wanna bet? (1)
As has been shown in previous posts on this blog, their age, class, skin color and association with a marginalized music/culture (“funk”) make these young people a favorite target for the Military Police. Keep this in mind as you read the piece below…
Socialist Black Movement repudiates racist act of Military Police that humiliated dozens of young people in a mall in Vitória, Espírito Santo
by the Movimento Negro Socialista (MNS)
Every day the repressive apparatus of the state and its police increase the brutality and violence against youth across the country. This repression is terrifying in the peripheries and their main victims are the children of the working class, especially young blacks. The profile of the criminal already designed by the pawns of the ruling class in the nineteenth century supported the concept of ‘race’, identifying the poorest extracts that corresponded especially to the black population, as those who were to be ‘eliminated’ for presenting a risk to society.
The profile of the felonious has for decades motivated the criminal justice system, supported by the capitalist state that produces crime in an accelerated rhythm. This pitiful conduct supports the concept of ‘races’ that stamps the racial hatred responsible for numerous historical genocides and serves for the division of the exploited by capitalism without any limits. The police, however, is the government arm that most serves the ruling class imposing racial hatred in the name of a false ‘social peace’. Racism perfects itself, every day becoming amore disgusting form of social division.
On the night of Saturday, November 30, aggressively closing a Funk dance at Pier da Enseada de Suá in the state of Espírito Santo, the Military Police promoted explicit scenes of racism upon dozens of young people at Shopping Vitória/ES. The youth were ‘expelled’ from a dance by police who claimed that ‘there were reports of fights’, took refuge in the mall frightened, but it were ‘surprised’ by Military Police again in a disgusting way that humiliated these youth, crowding them on the floor and exposing them to classic commands of repressive force: single file, hands on head, naked bodies. The ‘mission’ would be to protect retailers and consumers threatened by ‘criminal suspects’. But the ‘peace mission’ and the farce of promoting security was unmasked by their own communications assistance of the Shopping Vitória mall that ruled out the presence of an arrastão (criminal dragnet) (2) inside the establishment and said that no store had been robbed or damaged.
The aggressive actions of the Military Police were criticized even by retailers and consumers who reported the aggressions: “I saw a policeman upper-cutting, a boy,” “the climate became more tense at seeing armed police entering the mall”; “Part of those that were being searched were underage. I saw a boy being thrown to the ground by a police officer.” Mirst Sants, activist of the Movimento Negro (black movement) of Espírito Santos made this declaration of the occurrence:
“The police arrived quickly and came out apprehending each and every young person who would fit the ‘standard funk’ (profile). They made them descend in single file and then exposed them to public execration, sitting on the floor with their hands on their heads. And all this in spite of denying that there was any arrastão, “except in the alarmist version of the patrons.” If there had been something like an attempt of an arrastão, it seems it’s impossible to know. For some who were present, the negative motive of the Military Police was to “preserve the reputation of the mall as a security temple.” If so, the picture above, with young people sitting on the floor under surveillance and the video below, showing them being forced down in single file line in the sights of police, become even more serious as examples of arbitrariness, violence and disrespect of human rights. And it only gets worse when it happens still to the applause of the ‘consumers’…
The abuse of power driven by racism showed that the Military Police affirmed the playbook of criminalization that is no excuse for repressing poor, black youth. In an interview the Secretary of Public Security, André Garcia, tried reason the inexplicable stating that there was no abuse: “There was a commotion and some people reported thefts at the food court. The police acted properly. The intention was to identify who invaded the mall.” In the same interview, when explaining the ‘abuses’ shown in the pictures and videos of the situation he touches upon the contradictions and finally stated that the criteria of said ‘approaches’ depends on the ‘profile’ and ‘circumstances’: “When one encounters a suspicious attitude, the approach is a normal action. The police are authorized to do so. The people have to understand.”
The Movimento Negro Socialista (Black Socialist Movement) condemns the shameful action of the Military Police of Espírito Santo, who without any reason humiliated dozens of young blacks with an obvious abuse of power, promoting scenes of explicit racism that must be fought by all social movements and demand answers from governmental entities. The repressive power promotes human degeneration driving the practice of racism and imposing a revolutionary struggle that can only be victorious when confronted with the unity of all workers and youth in the struggle against capitalism and all its ills.
1. Barcellos, Caco. Rota 66 – A Historia da Policia que Mata. Record, 2003.
2. An “arrastão” is when a group of people, sometimes 20-30, suddenly, simultaneously start to snatch personal belongings of unsuspecting persons, and then quickly scatter, often on the beach. Please see a previous article dealing specifically with the beach and the racial ideologies connected to who is seen as “suspect”.