How Brazil treats its black people: Naked black male found pinned to a post by his neck in Rio

O racismo e seus tentáculos no seculo XXI - edit

Note from BW of Brazil: And yet another example of how Brazil treats its black people. Last week, Huffington Post did a piece on the country’s unwritten policy of the extermination of young black males that has been consistently featured on this blog. In a shocking photo reminiscent of a similar incident posted on this blog approximately a year ago, a young naked black male was pinned to a post in Rio with some metal apparatus around his neck.

Pelourinho in Salvador, Bahia. The public whipping of a slave
Pelourinho in Salvador, Bahia. The public whipping of a slave

The image of a black male tied to a post may be disgusting and a symbol of how black life is still seen in Brazil, but it is also historically relevant. In the article below, the word “pelourinho” is mentioned. “Pelourinho” means whipping post. During the slavery era, a slave would be tied to this post and publicly whipped as a warning to other slaves.

Praça Matriz, a pelourinho in Alcântara, Maranhão (northeast Brazil)
Praça Matriz, a pelourinho in Alcântara, Maranhão (northeast Brazil)

Today, when people hear the term Pelourinho, they mostly think of the historic area of downtown Salvador, Bahia, that is a popular tourist area of the city. But the history cannot be forgotten. 

Pelourinho in modern day Salvador, Bahia
Pelourinho in modern day Salvador, Bahia

The idea of tying a black male up is also reminiscent of a famous picture taken by photographer Luiz Morier in Rio de Janeiro in 1983. Taken from a series of shots taken by Morier, the photo shows a group of black males tied together by a rope around each of their necks before being loaded into a police wagon.

1983 Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Luiz Morier
1983 Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Luiz Morier

It seems things haven’t changed much in Brazil in the last few centuries. Let’s keep this in mind as everyone gets into the party vibe with the coming of Carnaval and the World Cup in June.

Below is how the incident was originally reported on the Controvesias blog. Yesterday, the mainstream press picked up the story and gathered more details. I will chime in with my thoughts below the reports. 

Racism and its tentacles in the XXI century

O racismo e seus tentáculos no seculo XXI - edit

February 3, 2014

February 2, the Day of Iemanjá. While samba was happening in Pedra do Sal, a few miles away, in the Flamengo neighborhood, they put a naked black man pinned by the neck in an improvised pelourinho (or pillory). He was mugging people (or so says whoever published the photo). To serve as an example to black thieves. Recently, a similar case happened on the beach.

This young man was not in the Pedra do Sal listening to the high poetry of black music, drinking beer and talking to his friends about working on his masters not because he has an evil delusion of assaulting people, the result of a malignant nature more or less human than anyone but because there is no objective space for dignity and happiness for all in the capitalist, racist and violent country project that drives Brazil. Without understanding this, they don’t understand anything, and easily, without even realizing it, they fall into the lap of the fascists.

And now, little has changed

The portrait of neglect

There is no historical vaccine policy, nothing is guaranteed and nothing is assured; humanity reinvents itself every day. Utter abhorrence and urgency of addressing this to the hilt. One cannot naturalize this in any way. I ask everyone to go to all political organizations, mandates, democratic entities, movements and organizations that they have knowledge of.

Teen robbery suspect is beaten and tied up naked on a pole on the south side of Rio

Young says he was approached by a group called Justiceiros, or vigilantes

Courtesy of R7

O racismo e seus tentáculos no seculo XXI (4)

A teenager suspected of practicing thefts on the south side of Rio was beaten, wounded with knife, stripped naked and tied to a pole on Avenida Rui Barbosa in Flamengo. The case was reported through a social network by Yvonne Bezerra, coordinator of Projecto Uerê and activist in causes of human rights. Yvonne said she was alerted by a friend about the tied up young man late on Friday (31).

She went to the scene and summoned police and firefighters, who were able to remove the bike lock that held the boy. The teenager said he had been approached by three men who called themselves Os Justiceiros (meaning “vigilantes”) and rode motorcycles. The trio beat the young man and stabbed him in the ear before removing his clothes and tying him to the post.

By way of the same social network that reported the incident, Yvonne vented against those who stood against her posture of helping the boy.

“I want to warn publicly here on face(book) that those who send me messages in my inbox, accusing me of several things I helped a person to be removed from a pole, naked on my street, to be careful with words. I’ve already summoned my lawyer and will sue one by one. I will never allow torture or groups of idiots who call themselves “justiceiros” to practice these acts. Bandits have to be arrested…”

Note from BW of Brazil: I’m curious to know how people feel about this piece but here’s where I’m coming from. First things first, no one actually verified if the young man in fact stole anything. There are various stories on this blog featuring young black males who were accused of robbery or attempted robbery. There were the accusations of arrastão (groups robberies on the beach), the recent profiling and mall restrictions of black youth due to the so-called rolezinhos (flash mobs) and well as the normal everyday harassment and accusations, often showing that nothing had been actually stolen. 

The second thing is Brazilian society has always reserved this type of treatment for black Brazilians in general. The term “justiceiro” has been around for a number of years and describes vigilantes and/or death squad groups, often times off-duty police, who decide to remove from society the “undesirable” element. In other words, the social order of inequality must be upheld. This speaks of a much deeper problem within Brazilian society. 

People protested and were outraged when affirmative action policies were introduced to balance the huge racial disparity of those who have access to college. The university area has always been generally a whites-only club and only in the past decade with the introduction of quotas has there been a marked change in racial representation on college campuses. People are quick to make sure to “keep people (ie blacks) in their place” but prefer to maintain the country in a permanent state of apartheid in nearly every area of life. Discussing the bankers and politicians who constantly assure that rules in society are tipped in their favor and thus help to create the social imbalances that lead to petty crime is not a topic that people want to seriously address. After all, it’s easier to point the finger at society’s rejects. This is the same petty crime that is created by elites who in turn put vigilantes and police in place to repress the supposed “criminal element.” It’s so nice to know that so many people want to ensure that inequality is as Brazilian as beaches and soccer. 

Source: Controvesias, R7

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. Well, there is nothing much that I can say. I am truly speechless and deeply
    heartbroken viewing these pictures, and reading this story. How does someone come out of the psychological and emotional devastation that treatment like this leave them in? Breaking Black men and women’s spirits seems to be the order of the day. In truth, there is nothing for a broken spirit to do, it becomes an empty vessel that have no ability to actualize its potential. As I have always stated the issue of racism is greater than just physical mistreatment, and the denial of privileges, there is an entire psychological and mental conditioning that is taking place. I can only hope that some caring organization provides this man with counseling, because he will need it, nobody can truly recover fully from a trauma like this without professional help. May he be uplifted in every way.

    I have more to say on the issue of mental conditioning, but it is much too late now to think clearly and express myself with complete clarity.

    • The government of Brazil should be ashamed of themselves. Now I understand why some black people want to go back to africa. Who wants to live in a country that treats the mayority of it’s citizens like this.

  2. The majority of brazilians are black or mixed and a minority is white. You cant say that in this case was caused because of racism. People are so disgusted with everyday violence that they want to make justice with their own hands. It exists yes cotes for black which is an abuse to any race. We all blame why this cotes were created, but they never “realized” that our education was so lame.Government created this cotes because they know the majority of brazilians are black or mixed and nobody goes to school, so they facilitated the work of going to university by given cotes otherwise they would never reach because only a minority white is capable and rich enough to go to public univerisities easily then a black guy who went to a public school, studied but might not reach. Cotes as well were created to incentivate the majority to study and go to school and it would be easier to go inside an university as it is very hard to go in one in the normal process, only the riches have money to pay for good schools and specific year courses to send their kids. The majority (black) doesnt.The apartheid comes from the government but not from the folk. We all live with any black person, there is at least one black person, i say at least, in each brazilian family!!!! Thats absurd say we are all racist. What exists is hypocrisy and everywhere in the world you see racism.we cant say it doenst exist but this was not what happened in this specific case. The three guys were either mixed and one was black, so tell me the justiceiros were all white?? No. Because in rio there is not many white ppl, which you would see very frequent in thesuth. Thats absurd.

  3. Some WHITE collars with DIPLOMA therefore OPPORTUNITY and CHOICE, steals billion there from all citizens and does not appear like the kid in the photo below. COWARDS!

  4. As a black man, I can tell you that in order to deter crime, this is the only language my black brethern understand. Anything even remotely resembling liberal bleeding heart sympathy is seen by us as being weak, and weaknesses will be exploited by criminals. Being black doesn’t prevent me being a victim, so I am all in favor of treating black criminals harshly, as it prevents crime.
    Trying to equate this with slavery is just plain opportunism. Slavery was abolished centuries ago, and no one living today supports the actions of those bygone years, irrespective of the color of ones skin.

  5. So criminals should just be forgiven because they are black? Muggings, rapes, murders all occur due to the violent nature of blacks. They have reeked havoc on every country they have lived in, they have never evolved into any industrial nation without the intervention of Whites, they have never sustained a society off their own without outside help. Watch South Africa as it spirals into the madness next, just like Rhodesia.

    • Ahh, so another reactionary who knows nothing about the true story but simply the appearances. Do me a favor and do some research on the origins of black subjectivity and what Europeans have done for centuries wherever there are non-white peoples. Do some research on how Europe would exist with the riches on the African continent and the ingenuity of the African peoples. As majority white countries continue to decline, it will interesting to see who you will blame this decline on since these are countries led by Europeans and their descendants.

      “Watch South Africa as it spirals into the madness”? Hmm, that wouldn’t have anything to do with the riches, wealth, minerals and diamonds and other resources that Europeans have been stealing for centuries and continue to own now would it? I tell you what, put ALL of the resources Europeans have stolen out of Africa over the past six centuries back and then we’ll talk.

      Modern industrial? Really? So obviously you again prove your Western-oriented education that speaks nothing of African ingenuity that was non-existent in Europe when people loved dirt and didn’t even know anything about bathing.

      Did you even read the article? The point is not simply to forgive someone “because they are black” as you so foolishness and simply stated, but the questioning the vast inequalities that exist within a racist/class-oriented society such as Brazil. Do your homework before you spew such stupid comments please!

    • You people always go there when misjustice or mistreatment is done; especially to a person of color. And what you’re saying is that Unless Whites run things, “it spirals into the madness…”
      I assuming you’re white; which means if you are, you people have raped, sexually abuse and pillaged every place you go: Africa, Asia, South America you name it, and it doesn’t stop with raping men, women & children; you sexually abuse animals too; does that mean in a public square; even if you’re assumed to be guilty people should strap you to a pole (by your genitals–your weapon of choice)…NO! The
      I’m so sick of people like you spitting hate at you most refer to as Blacks: today its African Blacks, then its Asiatic Blacks, then its Latinos.
      Asian woman is the most sexually exploited female on the planet and every time I see a white man with a young Asian girl or boy I just to rescue them; b/c I’m wrongly assuming he’s exploiting them; regardless of my feelings, it’s wrong to stereotype.
      You DO NOT know history and you’re assuming everyone here doesn’t know it either. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool ALL of the people…ALL of the time. You time to reign is coming to an end so you’re in the process of causing hatred and havoc….again.

  6. This site is black WOMEN of Brazil. SO why are you focusing on black men? Again, black folks cannot stay focused on the subject at hand when it pertains to females. The default BLACK PERSON is always male, and it never fails that the conversation which should be focusing on women and their needs and traumas is somehow circumvented to focus on black men. It never freakin fails.

    • While we respect your opinion, there are three things to consider here. 1) Sometimes stories are so important that it speaks to the entire community of black people. In a case such as this, does it really matter that it was a man or woman? They are both part of an oppressed community and the treatment of one reflects on the entire group. The focus here is not that the person is a man but (as his name is not even revealed) but rather what happened to him 2) If you look in the description of the blog, you will see that the object is to highlight black women of Brazil and also to cover incidents in Brazil from a racial perspective. 3) Nearly all of the interviews, personal stories and photos on this blog are with and of black women.

      Out of curiosity, do you also have the same problem when a magazine like ESSENCE featuring black men in the magazine and/or on the cover from time to time?

  7. Bom dia…Se alguem ta pensando que toda a Europa e a mesma coisa vai mostras so uma incapacidade intelectual modesta, fraquinha! Pessoal, quando vira uma coisa ¬chique¬ ou para fazer compras ou de pegar um gringo ou qualquer coisa gringa, obaa, e da hora, etc, mas quando quero passar a culpa num outros, vai dar bem de falar que o mundo e so em preto e branco, que toda a Europa ta complotando para manter o Brasil com montes de crimes, armas de fogo em qualquer canto, cocaina de mais, os politicos ladroes de mais..Eu sou da especia humana, esses principios seus tou intendendo melhor de que vcs acha mas nao vai dar melhor de puxar divagaozinho o assunto que todos europeos sao lixo, que todos rouba outras paises, que isso??! Fala com a Inglaterra, com a Franca, com a Hollanda, com a Russia..conchece quantas paises sao na Europa? Conhece geografia de ensino de segundo grau??? Acha que todas paises de la tem historia de colonialismo, que todas sau sujas de sangu, que a escravidao e so uma coisa branco e preto mas na moral, bota mais um livro na mao ou da um click na wikipedia no minimo….sao muitas paises que passava em 2 guerras mondiais sem ter nenhum historico beligerante, paises enteiras passando fome, levando bombardamentos, genociodios, deportacoes..etc etc . Tou intendendo que 500 anos de escravidao etc como fala a poesia, mas ta na cara o rasismo que acontece no Brasil e que ninguem nao esta fazendo NADA< NADA NADA!!!!!Lamentar e facil, mas a realidade cruel da sua terra e terrivel, assustadora, fora de compreencao para muitos e para jogar fora a historia ninguem ta pedindo isso, o que e mais triste e que a escavizao ta continuando mas com a sua passividade e falta de vontade de mudar algo acontece o que acontece! Antes de me chamar de racista – a melhor frase quando tem preguica de achar outrous argumentos mais validos, conhece que a minha esposa e de descendencia afro-brasileira, entao nao sou corespondendo no seu quadro racista aonde todos gringos sao nazi, ricos, etc. Seus propios brasileiros sao propagando o racismo mais de qualquer outra nacao do mundo eu acho, eu sou loiro e sou tratado como um lixo na rua na frente de imbecis que se acha melhores de qualquer um na sua terrinha, na frente de ignorantes que pensa que a rua ta todinha pra eles, no supermercado aonde passa so rainhas so por que tem preguica de mudar um centimetro, deixar putros passar, etc, respeitar o espaco pessoal de outros, mas nao, nao e nao, ta de boa de reclamar tempo inteiro antes de mudar um dedo mas quando chega a oportunidade de jogar a culpa e como que e…o acesso para o ensino e a inegualidade social e um absurdo no Brasil na minha opiniao mas ninguem ta impedindo ninguem de tentar de ser fora desse quadro aonde existe so culpas e culpados mas de enfrentar sozinho as dificuldades e de mostrar outra cara ninguem ta querendo, por que o jeitinho brasileiro e o jeitinho brasileiro e infelizmente essa materia nao e novidade, ja viu no youtube dezenas de linchamentos e coisas mais terriveis de o que aconteceu em cima que e uma vergonha mesmo. E quando tou criticando o jeitinho brasileiro quero de informar o fato que eu conhesci fora do Brasil centenas e mils pessoas mais pobres de que o povo ta na quebrada, pessoas analfabetas isoladas em comunidades escondidas da civilizacao, tambem ex-presidiarios que todos conhescia o que e respeito, bom senso, o que e de comprimentar sem esperar nada, de falar bom dia, de falar obrigado, de poder andar na rua sem atrapalhar outros e esses caras nao tinha educacao, nem condicoes basicas mas tinha respeito, honra, vontade de mudar as coisas, determinacao de ir ao campo e trabalhar de 6 da manha ate 7 da noite sem lamentar e jogar as culpas.

  8. Did you know the boy was caught stealing again less than a week later? By the way, “boy” is a misnomer since at his age many of the marginalized youths of Brazil have committed horrific acts of torture and murder…. These are not innocent boys we’re talking about here. And YES, most of them are black. Don’t hate me for saying it, this is not racism , this is stating facts. I do find it horribly unfortunate and downright immoral that so many upstanding, hard-working blacks have to deal with discrimination. However, non one is winning any points here in the fight against racist discrimination making a case for this thief, in fact I think you’re making a disservice to your own cause.

    • Stella,

      Thank you for reaching out and sharing your opinion. In the various articles of which I’ve commented on this case, I have said the following. I don’t condone petty crime. But the point you are missing here is that it is easy to point the finger at the petty thief and ignore the social inequality that leads him to this lifestyle. Brazil, like many other nations, is full of corruption in which people blindly accept a handful of people having wealth equivalent to that of half the population and the politicians who make this possible. Yes, point the finger and lynch the criminal who often does this to survive and continue to turn the blind eye to those responsible for this. That’s my position. No matter how you argue, it is always “blame/lynch/punish the victim”. Ask yourself, why is he in this situation? What happen with his parents that led him to living in this way? How did social inequalities put his parents in a precarious situation in the first place? What did his parents’ situation have to do with race? It’s easy for you to look at the effect and continue to ignore the cause. Disservice? I disagree. Deal with the cause first then deal with the outcome. A tree doesn’t grow without its roots!

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