Two young men were killed in the Boiadeiro neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, in Brazil’s northeast by four men wearing black masks. Police intimidate and attack protesters. (Please see video description and video below)
In another sad tale of the ongoing trail of murders involving young black males in Brazil, two young black males were killed in cold blood in what community members and activists are calling another assault on the young black male population of Brazil by death squads or police. Activists have long spoken out against an ongoing trail of deaths of young, black Brazilian males by either cross fire in Brazil’s police war on drugs or the actions of on and off duty police and vigilantes who are said to be a part of extermination groups or death squads*.
In protest against the massacre that occurred on Tuesday (28) in the Boiadeiro community of Salvador, Bahia, in which two young men were executed with shots in the back, community residents along with members of the Campanha Reaja (React Campaign), brought together various organizations that support the families of the victims of the State, called from a demonstration this past Friday (31) at 6pm. The motion called for an immediate investigation of the facts and the placement of public authorities on the massacre.
According to a statement issued by the React Campaign, Alex Carlos dos Santos, 19, and Luiz Henrique Sacramento Cerqueira, 20, were shot in a hailstorm of gunfire by four men wearing black masks riding in a black Gol vehicle. According to Boiadeiro residents, there are suspicions that the perpetrators were a death squad formed by police.
The young men were rescued and taken to a hospital, but arrived at the scene with no signs of life. The case is being investigated by the Homicide and Protection of Persons Department (DHPP).
During the funeral held on Thursday (30), family, friends and neighbors of the young men protested and accused the military police of intimidation and brutality when they physically assaulted both men and women. Police intimidated people who participated in the demonstration with verbal threats. “If you stay here we’ll do it again,” exclaimed one of the officers when they tried to contain the protest with shoves and slaps in the face of a woman, according to a statement from the React movement.
According to the 14th Military Police Company Independent, the protest was peaceful and orderly, with residents taking advantage of the closed road signs to display posters and manifest. The traffic was not interrupted at the site, according to the PM.
“They tried to arrest our lawyer, the fired shots in the air and slapped our lawyer,” says Hamilton Borges, of the React Campaign, speaking of a lawyer who investigates crimes. He promises more protests next week. “We will only stop when Secretary of Security comes to talk to us,” he says. The React Campaign seeks to publicize the genocidal rates of murder committed against young black males and educate the population to stand up and speak out. The message is “Reaja ou Será Morto (React or you will be killed)”.
On Wednesday, in the same region, there was a protest at the site that ended in turmoil – residents accused the police of having repressed the demonstration with violence and brutality. Shortly after the demonstration, which came to disrupt traffic in the area, one of the buses of the Axé bus company Axe was set on fire. Three men forced the passengers, the bus cashier and the driver to leave the vehicle. No one was arrested.
Local media, however, reported saying the fact that young people have died as a result of a confrontation between rival gangs that supposedly disputed the territory. However, witnesses said the boys were “cowardly murdered by a paramilitary or police death squad.”
Alax, besides being a student, was a construction assistant and had a dream of being a lawyer to help his family that lives in poverty. Luiz Henrique, known as “Riquinho”, also worked in the construction business and, at the time of his death, worked in a project to revitalize the São Bartolomeu Park (of the state of Bahia).
The community offered the following statement:
“…The community seeks to overcome fear and challenge the version (of the story) of the media that published information that the boys would have died from a confrontation between rival gangs that supposedly fought over territory. However, in reality, Luiz Henrique, an only child, a breadwinner, was killed in a cowardly manner in the company of Alax in a summary execution an action clearly taken by a police group or paramilitary extermination (group/death squad).
“At this point it is important to ensure the presence of the media and authorities to prevent further attacks on the community that legitimately exercises its right of free political demonstration against this policy that kills members of our community and justifies the killing as “self resistance” or confrontation between rival factions.
“The community and the Boiadeiro and the React Campaign calls on everyone, social movements, artists, poets, relatives of the victims of the state for this act that is for democracy, for life, against death squads and another model of Public Safety.
Immediate investigation of the facts
Psychological support and protection for the families of the dead and the demonstrators.
A hearing with the Secretary of Public Safety
A hearing with the Secretary of Justice and Human Rights
The attention of the Public Ministry to listen to the Social Movement”
In the video below, from about 0:25 second mark to the 0:50 second mark, you will see the React Campaign lawyer dressed in white having a discussion/confrontation with the police officer. The police officer tells the lawyer that they should stop this protest because it won’t do any good, that their message won’t reach the politicians. The lawyer says that their message will reach them. The politicians are us (they represent us). You are a black officer from the favela (poor shantytown) so you should be helping us. You are one of the people too!
There is a lot of confusion, yelling, pushing and shoving, police grabbing protesters. At about the 1:14 mark it appears that someone gets struck and eventually at the 1:34 mark, a police officer fires a shot into the air. There are various signs throughout the video:
Reaction to police brutality in the Boiadeiro neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia
A few of the messages read:
“Em denfensa da vida; Reaja ou Será Morto (In defense of life; react or you will be killed)”
“Frente ao Genocídio do Povo Negro (Front against the genocide of black people)”
“Nenhum Passo Atrás (No backward steps)”
Throughout the video protesters chant:
“Um povo negro unido é um povo negro forte (A united black people is a strong black people)”
* – In Salvador and other Brazilian cities, young black males are the prime target of these groups. In 2004, in Salvador, a city with 75% black majority, of 706 people killed in homicides between the ages of 15 and 29, 699 were black and 7 were white. The percentage in relation to the number per one hundred thousand of each ethnic group was 50.1 for blacks and 1.7 for whites.
For more on the background of the situation in Salvador, Bahia, please check out these articles