Note from BBT: Although I know there are probably people out there celebrating this news, I still have to say that I’m a bit tired of this. Everyone no doubt knows the routine in these types of things. A black man, woman, teen or child is beaten or shot in an incident involving security agents that often leads to serious injury or death. Security agents, representatives or heads of these security agents issue a statement either saying it was an ‘’isolated incident’’, they are looking into the circumstances and the company or entity repudiates and denies any sort of racist actions in said action that lead to the serious injury or death.
But that’s not all. There are usually very typical reactions or actions taken after public outrage either calls for lawsuits, firings and some sort of reparation to address the event. It’s at this point that these entities either go into full damage control, offer some sort of regret for the incident, promising to do the right thing, takes some sort of symbolic action or in the worse case scenario, does nothing at all.
I’ve seen these sorts of incidents transpire so often in Brazil over the past few decades that I feel as if I’m an expert on their outcomes. As such, the latest developments in the case involving the murder of João Alberto Silveira Freitas almost a year ago were pretty much predictable. If you’re not familiar with the case or haven’t heard about, Freitas was a 40-year-old black man who was brutally beaten to death by security agents at a Carrefour supercenter in the southern city of Porto Alegre on the eve of Brazil’s National Day of Black Consciousness, a day in which the historic mistreatment of Afro-Brazilians in commemorated.
The Freitas murder led to protests across the country, some of which turned violent as tens of thousands of people were reminded of the little value Brazil continues to associate with black life and that the fact that the event happened months after the murder of George Floyd, a black American murdered in Minnesota in the United States several months before.
I haven’t followed all of the developments in this case, but a few things have caught my attention since Freitas was murdered. One was how the supercenter reached out to certain Afro-Brazilians who are seen as leaders or representatives of the wishes of the black community in an apparent attempt to smooth over public relations. Two was the announcement that it was going to change its model of security and three was the delay in the settlement with the Freitas family.
What I see now is yet another attempt at repairing its public image by hiring a black man to head up security forces at the supercenter. These types of actions always irk me. It’s as if putting a black man or woman as the face of some entity, organization, company or even government will suddenly fix the problem with institutional racism. How often do we have to see this trick to know that it doesn’t really change anything?
Often times it simply amounts to put a black face on white supremacy. This is particularly true when the chosen black person is so committed to protecting the system or has no real connection to the interest of the black community. Black Brazilians should know this by now. I haven’t spoken much lately about the black man chosen at the head of the Palmares Foundation, a governmental entity that is supposed to preserve the values of the Afro-Brazilian influence in Brazilian society. With the current president, Sérgio Camargo heading up the entity, I don’t see any difference between having a black man or a card-carrying white supremacist in charge.
I don’t know anything about the black man chosen to head up security at Carrefour, but in some ways, it doesn’t even matter. I mean, in Brazil, a large percentage of the men who are part of the brutally murderous Military Police forces are black men, so I believe I am justified in asking why I should necessarily believe having a black head of security on the corporate level automatically means any sort of chain wide change. Of course, I will wait and see, but I’m not holding my breath for anything.
After João Beto case, Carrefour decides to hire black director
Company reports proposing “transparency and inclusion” in order to minimize controversy
Courtesy of Pleno.News
Carrefour announced changes after controversy
After João Alberto Silveira Freitas, 40, was beaten and killed by two security guards at a Carrefour supermarket in Porto Alegre in November 2020, the multinational company was the target of protests in its stores and faced negative international repercussions and legal action. The episode generated a flurry of accusations of racism and discrimination. In order to minimize them, the company ended the outsourcing of security and hired a black director to conduct internal changes.
In June, Carrefour signed a term of conduct adjustment (TAC) with the Rio Grande Do Sul State and Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office and with the NGOs Educafro and Centro Santo Dias de Direitos Humanos for the “valorization of diversity”.
In the markets, the “Anti-racist Plan” was implemented, which includes safety protocols, a channel for complaints and training for managers and workers about racial diversity. One of the leaders of the process is Claudionor Alves, a 55-year-old black man from Bahia, who was hired as the Corporate Security and Loss and Risk Prevention director.
Besides a prominent position for a black professional, the company decided to internalize the function of prevention agent. Today, the group’s one hundred so-called “hyper” stores in the country no longer have outsourced employees. In the smaller ones, the internalization reached 20% of the total.
The property security, called external security or surveillance, continues to be done by third parties – a legal requirement, because this service has to be done under the seal of the Federal Police. Around 600 employees were hired all over Brazil, and the company emphasizes that 64% are black. Another goal of Carrefour is to have half of them female.
Another measure that has already been adopted is the use of body cameras on the uniforms of the security guards. The cameras are attached to the uniform without the user being able to turn it off. A pilot project tests these changes, already adopted by the São Paulo Military Police, in four stores in Porto Alegre.
‘’Our goal is to adopt them throughout Brazil by the end of the year,’’ says Jérôme Mairet, Risk Management director of the Carrefour Group.
Source: Pleno News