Note from BBT: I mentioned this in a previous post. It’s been a difficult week for Brazil, both in general, but particularly if you follow the situation and news affecting the country’s black community. I mean, this is pretty much the norm when you’re dealing with Brazil, but I still had to wonder, ‘what next?’ after this past week. In a coming post, I will talk about the death of two influential Afro-Brazilian musician/songwriters within a period of three days, but first I must discuss the devastating news that I’m sure many of you are already aware of as it made international headlines a week ago now.
It’s a shame, but it almost seems as if my own words were some sort of premonition for events to come. At the same time, my own coverage of these types of stories shows me that, regardless of when I discuss this, it will most likely happen again…and again…and still again. Matter of fact, when I brought this up in one of my social networks of black expats living in Brazil, the first read “again”.
I’m sure anyone who has kept up with my reports on these incidents for any period of time knows that I nor the comment says/means this in a mocking or dismissive manner, but it’s just a reaction to the normalcy of Brazil’s police actions against poor, mostly black neighborhoods. If you’re not familiar with these merciless acts of violence, you may in fact interpret the reaction of “again” in that matter. In some ways, there simply aren’t any more words to express about these acts.
Due to daily responsibilities and work commitments that keep the lights on, I haven’t been able to post anything in about week, which is the longest period in which I haven’t published anything since this blog started back in late 2011. My absence wasn’t not due to a lack of interest, just the fact that we often have to commit to things we must do rather than things we would like to do. You working people know what I mean.
before I went on this brief hiatus, two of the last stories I posted discussed how the stats show that Brazilian police kill up to 17 times more black people than American police and another discussing the OAS Inter-American Commission declaring brazil a racist country that exterminates its “undesirables”. How timely. For those who still would label my assessment of this situation as somehow blowing it out of proportion, I’ll just say that it must be just a coincidence that this latest atrocity happened in the ‘blackest neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro’.
I know…it must be just a coincident….again.
Jacarezinho is the target of police massacre in the most lethal massacre in the history of Rio de Janeiro
Courtesy of Hypeness
On the morning of last Thursday, May 6, the residents of the Jacarezinho community woke up with the smell of gunpowder in the air. The Rio military police carried out their most murderous operation in history; 29 lives were claimed in an alleged and failed attempt to curb drug trafficking in the neighborhood of the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro.
“We walked through Jacarezinho, entered five or six houses, and saw the same dynamic: houses broken into, shots fired, execution. There is no mark of exchange of gunfire. It’s execution. A boy died sitting on a chair. This is execution, it is cruel, it is barbarism,” said Joel Luiz Costa, a lawyer member of the OAB Human Rights Commission, born in the Jacarézinho community.
According to the New Illegalism Study Group at Universidade Federal Fluminense, no police operation in the city of Rio de Janeiro had left so many people dead in history. The slaughter carried out by the authorities proved to be an absolute humanitarian disaster.
“It was the most lethal operation in our database, there is no way to qualify it in any way other than as a disastrous operation (…) It is an action authorized by the police authorities, which makes the situation much more serious,” says sociologist Daniel Hirata, from Geni/UFF, to the G1 new site.
The police claim that only ‘criminals’ were killed. The victims have not even been identified so far. And even if they were, it’s hard to believe the MP’s version. Two people were killed on the subway. A young man was executed unarmed in the bedroom of a nine-year-old child. There was no conflict, resistance to the operation, nothing like that, just massacre.
According to Maria Júlia Miranda, a public defender in Rio de Janeiro who is following the massacre, the crime scenes were cleared without any expertise.
“In a house, the family was taken away and two boys in the room died. The room is full of blood and body parts. They were taken from inside these houses already dead. It is the undoing of crime scenes,” said the lawyer to the Folha de São Paulo newspaper.
Among those killed in the operation was a policeman. According to reports, it was after the death of the MP officer that the tone of the uniforms rose. Then, the operation became a slaughter operation. The Brazilian Bar Association said that there are indications of ‘summary execution’.
The nefarious police operation shows the continuity of the extermination policy promoted by Governor Cláudio Castro, previously promoted by Wilson Witzel. The government of Rio maintained the narrative of the war on drugs and classified as a pity the fact that the Jacarezinho community is dominated by drug traffic. There was no note of regret.
It is important to remember that Jacarezinho is a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro known for being the blackest in the entire capital of Rio de Janeiro. The 29 murdered by the police had a color and address. It is the most perverse face of Brazilian racism.
“We have a chain of accountability that needs to be determined. This is a police operation, a very serious case of state violence. It’s not a death squad, bad police, militia. It is an operation authorized by the authorities. And all this at a time when there is a determination to suspend police operations in the communities by the Federal Supreme Court,” added Daniel Hirata.
Police operations were banned during pandemic
In June last year, Federal Supreme Court Minister Edson Fachin determined in an analysis of the Fundamental Precept Failure Statement (ADPF) 635 that police operations in Rio de Janeiro should be prohibited.
At the request of the Brazilian Socialist Party, the STF (Federal Supreme Court) Minister decided to suspend police operations in Rio de Janeiro; the Jacarézinho massacre violated the supreme court decision
After the death of João Pedro, a 14-year-old boy murdered by the police, a strong commotion in society turned to police violence. The ADPF is a legal resource in which the STF can analyze whether a public policy is in violation of constitutional precepts. According to Minister Fachin, Rio de Janeiro’s public security policy should urgently suspend police operations.
“There is no justification for a 14-year-old child to be shot more than 70 times. The fact is indicative, in itself, that, maintaining the current regulatory framework, nothing will be done to reduce police lethality, a state of affairs that in no way respects the Constitution,” wrote Minister Fachin.
Since then, police operations have been suspended in Rio de Janeiro, being allowed only in “exceptional cases”. The Fluminense (Rio) government was not complying with the decision; the Jacarezinho community itself had already been the target of operations since June 2020. We have reached the most serious point of this illegality.
The Rio de Janeiro Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) said it was only notified of the operations after they started. The PPO says that it has no power to authorize the work of the police, but that it requires notification of the actions, especially after the request of the STF.
“The conduct of police operations does not require prior authorization or consent by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but rather the communication of its realization and justification in response to the express commands of the Supreme Federal Court, after the judgment of ADPF 635-RJ”, he stated in note.
The Human Rights Office of the United Nations (UN) has called for an independent investigation into the slaughter of Jacarezinho. “We ask the prosecutor to conduct an independent and thorough investigation of the case according to international standards,” said Rubert Colville, head of the department at the UN, at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
The PSOL political party defended the creation of an investigation committee in the Chamber of Federal Deputies so that the case can be investigated and that the authorities involved in the action are held responsible.
“The logic behind the fight against crime is still that of confrontation, and not that of investigation, of planning. These are very serious cases, and they have to be faced by the STF for that decision to be used to reform the police in Rio de Janeiro. Jacarezinho’s case makes it clear that this is not happening,” says Maria Isabel Couto, a member of the NGO Fogo Cruzado.
Police insist on criminalizing Jacarezinho massacre victims
By Daniela Mercier
The Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro withdrew from the information that the number of officially confirmed deaths rose to 29 in what is considered the most lethal massacre in the history of the capital of Rio de Janeiro, in the operation in the Jacarezinho favela, last Thursday. In a note released Saturday morning, the corporation said that “28 criminals and police inspector André Leonardo de Mello Frias died in the operation.” However, afterwards, it withdrew from the confirmed information and went back to talking about 28 deaths in all: 27 civilians and the agent, shot in the head. The police officer is still the only execution recognized by the authorities, despite the testimony of residents.
According to a report by the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, the body of a person whose identity has not yet been identified, located in the region where the police action took place and who is at the IML (Instituto Médico Legal or Medico-Legal Institute), may be the 29th victim, but the Civil Police is still investigating if it is related to the episode. Officially, however, the Rio Civil Police explained that “the mistake was due to two bodies that were not identified in the hospital, but that had already been identified by the Homicide Police; which caused the double count.”
The Civil Police also earlier this evening released the list with the 28 names of the victims (see below). The operation, called Exceptis, investigated the solicitation of children and adolescents for drug trafficking. As an EL PAÍS report showed, at least 13 victims had nothing to do with the investigation. Investigators failed to reach the majority of the 21 suspected people – of the list, only three were arrested and three others were killed. According to the Fogo Cruzado Institute, a total of 33 people were shot, including two who were wounded by a stray bullet inside the subway.
Still according to the Institute, considering the civilian victims, the massacre is still the second most lethal ever recorded in the State, behind the one committed by an extermination group in 2005, in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio.
The images of bloody houses and bodies taken by the police in sheets generated a revolt and prompted the collection of national and international authorities for explanations. On Friday, the Attorney General’s Office asked the Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Cláudio Castro (PSC), and the head of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Civil and Military Police to clarify the circumstances of the police operation within five business days. The PGR measure took place after the official letter sent by Minister Edson Fachin, from the Federal Supreme Court, demanding measures. “The facts reported seem serious and, in one of the videos, there are indications of acts that, in theory, could constitute arbitrary execution”, argued Fachin.
The Civil Police denies that there have been abuses and says that the agents acted in self-defense and that the dead were linked to organized crime and drug trafficking. At a press conference on Thursday, police chief Rodrigo Oliveira criticized the “judicial activism” that “victimizes this criminal”. “The only execution that took place was that of the police, unfortunately. The other deaths that happened were those of traffickers who attacked the lives of policemen and were neutralized,” he declared to the press. The Jacarezinho favela is considered an important base for the Comando Vermelho, the main and most powerful faction in Rio de Janeiro.
On Friday night, residents of the community in the North Zone of Rio gathered in a protest against the massacre: “Parem de nos matar”, meaning “Stop killing us”, they said on posters and shirts. In São Paulo, there was an act in front of the MASP museum free space, called by the Coalizão Negra por Direitos (Black Coalition for Rights), which brought together about 200 entities. “The Jacarezinho slaughter is at the top of the list of exterminations that mark the sad and violent daily lives of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro and that open up the racism present in Brazilian society,” says the institution.
The coalition points out that the operation took place illegally, since the Supreme Court prohibited police occupations in Rio’s favelas during the pandemic. The Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) in Rio also expressed its concern about the breach of the rule. “It is important to note that the police raid takes place during the duration of the precautionary measure issued in the records of ADPF 635 (STF), the provision of which reserves operations of this nature, within the scope of the State of Rio de Janeiro, to completely exceptional and justified hypotheses. And with the assistance of the PPO,” he said in a note. “We emphasize that the permanent focus of the security forces’ activities must be the preservation of lives, including that of the police themselves.”
See the list of 27 civilians killed in Jacarezinho, released by the Civil Police:
1 – JONATHAN ARAÚJO DA SILVA
2 – JONAS DO CARMO SANTOS
3 – MÁRCIO DA SILVA BEZERRA
4 – CARLOS IVAN AVELINO DA COSTA JUNIOR
5 – RÔMULO OLIVEIRA LÚCIO
6 – FRANCISCO FÁBIO DIAS ARAÚJO CHAVES
7 – CLEYTON DA SILVA FREITAS DE LIMA
8 – NATAN OLIVEIRA DE ALMEIDA
9 – MAURÍCIO FERREIRA DA SILVA
10 – RAY BARREIROS DE ARAÚJO
11 – GUILHERME OF AQUINO SIMÕES
12 – PEDRO DONATO DE SANT’ANA
13 – LUIZ AUGUSTO OLIVEIRA DE FARIAS
14 – ISAAC PINHEIRO DE OLIVEIRA
15 – RICHARD GABRIEL DA SILVA FERREIRA
16 – OMAR PEREIRA DA SILVA
17 – MARLON SANTANA DE ARAÚJO
18 – BRUNO BRASIL
19 – PABLO ARAÚJO DE MELLO
20 – JOHN JEFFERSON MENDES RUFINO DA SILVA
21 – WAGNER LUIZ MAGALHÃES FAGUNDES
22 – MATHEUS GOMES DOS SANTOS
23 – RODRIGO PAULA DE BARROS
24 – TONI DA CONCEIÇÃO
25 – DIOGO BARBOSA GOMES
26 – CAIO DA SILVA FIGUEIREDO
27 – EVANDRO DA SILVA SANTOS.