Note from BW of Brazil: This has been a topic of discussion for many weeks in meetings and social forums in activists circles. In the United States, when black men are killed in the streets by police, thousands across the nation take to the streets, while in Brazil, where police kill far more people, protests are either rare, few and far between and don’t last for very long. But recent protests in the US prompted one writer’s premonition that the situation in the US could spark more racial justice in Brazil. I don’t really see it that way. In the US, recent murders of unarmed blacks have led to consistent injustices, so how and why would this lead to justice in Brazil? What I DO see is the activism influencing black Brazilians, thousands of which took to the streets across the nation in protest back in August. As I pointed out in a previous article, black Brazilians don’t have a long history of widespread activism as was the case among black Americans in the turbulent 1950s, 60s and 70s, and as such, this is one of the principal reasons why collective activism around specifically racial issues has been such a long time coming.
Perfect example. An African-American friend of mine who has been involved with Afro-Brazilian causes for a few years relayed this story to me. In addressing a specific issue in the city of Salvador, which is the capital city of the heavily Afro-Brazilian state of Bahia, she suggested to a well-known black activist and leader that they construct an international coalition of activists and take their demands to the streets in huge numbers. He didn’t agree. “No, no, no…we don’t do that here!” she recalled his reaction being. The 1950s-1970s struggles of the African-Americans as well as African independence movements had a huge influence on Brazil’s Movimento Negro. This is not necessarily saying that following that example is clearly the way to go. If it were, there wouldn’t be such continuous racial inequalities and police brutality that continues to the plague the black community in the US.
As such, we’ll have to wait to see how the situations in Ferguson and New York will affect the Afro-Brazilian community. Hopefully what happened on Thursday is a only sign of things to come!
Military Police, black youth want to breathe
Inspired by the movement that erupted in the US against police violence, thousands of young black men and women take to the streets in São Paulo, protesting their greatest tormentor, the Military Police
By Igor Carvalho – Photos courtesy of Mídia NINJA
Forty-five social movements and organizations called the act “Ferguson é aqui” (Ferguson is here), which alludes to the Michael Brown murder in the city of Ferguson in the US by Darren Wilson, a white cop who will not be tried for the crime. The fight against institutional racism of the police went international and arrived in Brazil, where police lethality is not new nor are street protests against state violence.
Thursday (18), about two thousand people, according to organizers (the PM did not disclose its estimate), marched against police violence. The act, which began at about 5pm in República square downtown, ended at 8:30 in front of the headquarters of the Secretaria de Segurança Pública (SSP or Secretariat of Public Security).
Police violence in São Paulo, victimizes three times more blacks than whites, according to a study by the Department of Sociology at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar).
According to the survey, presented in March this year, from 2009 to 2011, the Military Police (MP) killed 823 people. Of this total, blacks account for 61%. Blacks represent about 32% of the population of São Paulo. Most of the victims were male and were between 20 and 24 years of age. The murders were committed, in 79% of cases examined by the group, by white officers.
On December 4th, Amnesty International presented research that justifies the use of the word “genocide” by the social movements. According to the organization, in 2012, 56,000 people were murdered in Brazil, with 30,000 being young people, of whom 77% are black.
From Ferguson to Sao Paulo, there are similarities in police modus operandi and differences in reaction on the streets. “The mobilization in the US inspires us. The death of Michael Brown is not seen as something normal. The center of capitalism proves that it cannot account for the end of racism. In a parallel with Brazil, the country that kills people, up to what point does death move us?” asks Juninho Jr. of the Círculo Palmarino.
Police violence was the main theme of the act
Although statistics show the black man as the main target of homicides in the country, other types of violence oppress women. “If we look at the history of Brazil, women are the main victims. We suffer psychological, physical, sexual and moral violence, constantly. Violence is everyday,” says Sara Mendes Siqueira, of the Marcha Mundial das Mulheres (World March of Women).
The demonstration, mostly made up of young people, was inspired by protests in the US, after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The executioners of the two murdered young black men passed unscathed by the American Justice, which triggered a series of protests in the country.
Eric Garner, before dying, alerted police who strangled him: “I can’t breathe” (translated as “eu não consigo respirar”, in Portuguese). Recalling the last phrase spoken by him, the Brazilian protesters repeated the gesture that Americans and British have done and laid down on the ground with their hands on their neck, simulating suffocation.
“We wanted young people to mobilize here, as has happened there [USA]. What happens in the US, it has happened here in Brazil for a long time, too. In Brazil, since the 90s, when we found Hip Hop, we learned to position ourselves against police violence. Now we need to take to the streets,” said Ananda Felisberto, of the Levante Popular da Juventude, which means Popular Uprising of the Youth.
Signs remind victims of police violence
Black men and women, although not young, are still affected by police violence in spaces of struggle. Who affirms this is Jussara Basso, of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto (MTST or Movement of Homeless Workers), which was also incorporated into the manifestation “Ferguson é aqui.” Violence in the periphery. That says a lot about where you live. Whoever is poor in these areas, is a ‘criminal’ for the MP. The rich are in their neighborhoods, protected by their private security, the MP. Slavery is over and we cannot continue to be targets,” she protested.
Gilvan Máximo, of “Nós da Sul” (Us from the South), screamed into the microphone, corroborating Jussara’s accusation and being faced by four police officers guarding the front of the Secretariat of Public Security, insurmountable for the people, physically and politically. “The MP does not ask to come into occupation, it’s in the beatings. There, it plays the role the system gives it, which is to exterminate. The government doesn’t even give us water. Go see if there is a lack of water in Jardins,” said the protester, remembering the recent water crisis faced by the state.
The protesters remained in front of the SSP for two hours, demanding a meeting with the secretary, Fernando Grella Vieira. It was in vain. No representative of the secretariat camedown to talk to the activists. Again, just as what happens in the suburbs, the only arm of the state that came to the militants was the armed wing. The Tropa de Braço, as well as some MPs agents, oversaw the two thousand black men and women outside the building.
Protesters climb the SSP’s headquarters to protest
In parallel with the protest, in a meeting with the Attorney General of Justice of the State of São Paulo, Márcio Fernando Elias Rosa, guaranteed a promise that representatives of movements will meet with the new secretary of the SSP, Alexandre de Moraes, in the beginning of 2015.
The Attorney General also promised improvements in the external control of illegal police actions as well as studying a policy of reparation to families who have lost a relative to police violence.
Source: Mídia Ninja