Military Police kill João Vitor Another Youth in Rio de Janeiro
Note from BW of Brazil: The temperature is rising in Rio, and not because of the weather. No sooner did I report the murder of 14-year João Pedro in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro after a police action, now comes another death of another black teen. This time the victim was 18-year old João Vitor. Vitor’s death happened in the Cidade de Deus neighborhood. Yes, the same region made famous by the international blockbuster film of the same name.
Three details that I must point out here that you will note in the full report below. One, when Vitor’s mother was told by police that her son had a gun and the mother denied it, the police responded, “It’s your word against mine.” I point this out because it is well-known that police versions of why people die as a result of their operations is always disputed by residents and witnesses. In this comment, it’s almost as if the officer is saying that this is the story he’s reporting and it will be up to her to debunk this version.
Two, one of the police was also heard saying that, if one doesn’t want to be shot and killed in these types of operations, they’d better have a Bible in their hand, as if anyone not carrying Bible will automatically be deemed a suspect. And three, although we know police will lie to cover up the senseless aggressions and attacks they make in poor, mostly non-white neighborhoods, we do need to consider that police are alleging that the victim was involved in a life of criminal activity, and that he posted a photo with a weapon pointing outside of a window on social media and was armed.
I am in no position to say if any of this is actually true, although his mother vehemently denies the claims. Vitor’s mother admits that her son had gone astray in previous years but maintained that the police claims were false. While we know that it isn’t unheard of for police to plant weapons on persons they have killed, we also know that mothers don’t always know what their children are involved in. I can only hope there will be some clarity on these discrepancies. If want the police is saying is true, it should be easy enough to prove with police records, but even so, doesn’t justify Vitor’s death. Obviously, police want to portray Vitor as a criminal, because in the eyes of the public, a good criminal is a dead criminal.
Military Police kill another youth in Rio de Janeiro during pandemic: João Vitor, 18, died in Cidade de Deus region
“Anyone who doesn’t want to be shot has to leave with a Bible in hand,” said one of the officers who participated in the BOPE operation.
By Lucas Rocha
Volunteers who were distributing basic food baskets in the favela of Cidade de Deus, in Rio de Janeiro, on Wednesday (20) reported the death of another young man by police action during the pandemic. The case came a day after the boy João Pedro, 14, was found dead at the Instituto Médico Legal (IML). The victim this time was João Vitor, 18 years old.
According to the Voz das Comunidades (Voice of the Communities), the young man was shot during the action of the Battalion of Special Police Operations of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro (BOPE) and placed inside a caveirão. A caveirão, meaning ‘big skull’, is a tank like armored vehicle used by Rio’s Military Police. He was taken to Lourenço Jorge Hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.
The guardian counselor and resident of Cidade de Deus, Jota Marques, said that the boy shot had left the house to go buy a kite. “He passed away. We are tired. We have no right to deliver food, we have no right to take care of ours. We have no right to anything,” said Marques on Twitter.
The volunteers heard by the Voz said they tried to identify the body, but were repressed by officials. “Anyone who doesn’t want to be shot has to leave with a Bible in hand,” said one of the PMs. Governor Wilson Witzel said a similar phrase during an interview last year.
Lawyer Joe Luiz, of the Rio de Janeiro OAB (Brazilian Bar Association) Human Rights Commission, said the victim was João Vitor da Rocha, 18 years old. He even published a video of two volunteers disgusted by the incident.
Joe Luiz @joelluiz_adv: “We were born a target. We were born a target. João Pedro died yesterday. They are genocidal and we are targeted by the state, bro! We are black bro. Listen to this dialogue. Another death in the favelas of Rio. João Vitor, 18, Cidade de Deus”
On Monday, residents of Salgueiro, in São Gonçalo, denounced the disappearance of teenager João Pedro after being shot during police action. After twelve hours of searching, he was found dead by family members at IML (Medico-Legal Institute) of Lagoa, in Rio.
Last Friday (20), another BOPE operation left dead people in Rio de Janeiro. At the time, at least five people died in Complexo do Alemão after gunfire. Amnesty International in Brazil criticized the operation: “Within and outside the context of a pandemic, we demand from authorities a public security that respects human rights in policing and the action of public security agents in general, respecting protocols for the use of force”.
🇧🇷 🌻 JOTA MARQUES@jotamarquesrj: “He passed away. We are tired. We have no right to deliver food, we have no right to take care of ours. We have no right to anything.”
What we see in the video below (courtesy of the Pretitudes Instagram page) shows the outrage of the community and the realization and understanding by black Brazilians that the Brazilian state seems to be on an undeclared genocidal mission against Afro-Brazilians. Listen as one of the men screams “Nós somos pretos, mano!” to another man, meaning “We’re black bro”! As many stories have been posted here featuring young, black males killed by police forces, it’s obvious why so many are calling such senseless deaths on the part of the state the “genocide of black youth”.
⛔ TRIGGER ALERT: RACISM; VIOLENCE ⛔
“If you’re born black, you already have a target on your back. Another young man dead today…João Vitor da Rocha, 18 years old, resident of Cidade de Deus, now murdered by the BOPE skull while delivering a basic basket for the Frente Ampla de Combate ao Coronavirus. I will repeat: Were you murdered when you delivered a basic basket to the community? Yesterday it was João Pedro and Iago, tomorrow it could be me or you. Do you care? And the question is no longer: until when? And yes: WHEN WILL WE REACT? – Information by: @joelluiz_adv and @levikaiquef
On video recorded after the death, one of the volunteers despairs. “They’re genocidal, they enter the favela killing,” he says, while another member of the Front tries to calm him down: “They’re genocidal and we’re the target of the state, it’s always been that way. We’re black, bro. So calm down! I won’t lose you, bro.”
Police say young man killed in Cidade de Deus was part of an express kidnapping ring; mother denies accusation
The Civil Police said that the 18-year-old killed during a joint operation with the Military Police, on Wednesday night, in Cidade de Deus, was part of a gang specialized in express kidnapping that acted in the neighborhood’s vicinity of the West Zone of Rio. João Vitor Gomes da Rocha’s mother, however, denies this version of the story.
João Vitor was to turn 19 on the next 6th and died after he was shot during the operation, which happened in the locality known as Pantanal.
“He was at his father’s house, when he heard he there was a distribution of baskets and went to get a password to get one, when the operation happened”, says the mother, who is a daily cleaner and chose not to identify herself. “Everyone is talking in a loud and clear tone that the police are already shooting”.
After being shot, João Vitor was rescued by Military Police at the Lourenço Jorge Municipal Hospital, in Barra da Tijuca, but he succumbed to his injuries. He arrived at the health unit lifeless.
The daily cleaner (mother) and other relatives of the young man were at the IML of São Cristóvão for the release of his body this morning. The burial will take place this Friday, at the Inhaúma Cemetery.
The police action in the region was carried out between the 41st DP (Tanque) and the 18th BPM (Jacarepaguá). The officers had arrest warrants for suspected members of the express kidnapping ring.
According to delegate Gustavo Rodrigues, chief of the 41st DP, João Vitor participated in the theft of a gray Honda HR-V in July of last year, in the Barra region. A crime investigation found his fingerprints on the vehicle
“My son was never involved in any car theft. I will investigate all of this. I will try to find out what this story is,”guarantees the mother, saying that João Vitor has already worked in a car wash and, most recently, was selling ice on the beach. “He was unemployed and looking for a job, without documentation because he didn’t enlist in the military.”
The police incident on yesterday’s operation reports that when the agents arrived at Rua Cunha Pedrosa, near Ciep Luiz Carlos Prestes, they were attacked by armed drug dealers who were in a “dope house”, near Rua do Canal and Newton Teixeira (streets).
“Having the teams immediately took shelter (sic) due to the large-caliber shots fired, having seen an intense movement of drug dealers armed with rifles and pistols”, reads a section of the incident report.
After the shots, the police reportedly found João Vitor shot on the floor with a Glock G17 caliber pistol .9mm, with scraped numbering. The gun had an elongated magazine and 22 rounds.
“Considering the apprehension of 22 (twenty-two) ammunition in the elongated magazine with a capacity of 30 (thirty), it is noted that at least 8 (eight) shots were made in the direction of the police by the accused, since, rationally, no one uses a magazine elongated without the corresponding ammunition, since it serves precisely for that purpose,” the occurrence highlights.
Asked about João Vitor having a gun, the mother vehemently denies it. She said she learned that he was armed when police looked for her at Lourenço Jorge.
“At the end of the night, two guys came in, didn’t identify themselves, claiming to be policemen, and said, ‘Did you know your son had a pistol?’ I said at the time that my son had no pistol and I said ‘it’s your word against mine'”, she recalls.
SHOT IN FEBRUARY
The police report also says that, in Lourenço Jorge, close relatives of João Vitor would have regretted to the agents that he “entered the world of crime”.
“My son was not involved with anything. If my son was involved, I would say. He wasn’t involved, he wasn’t anyone’s security and he wasn’t involved in car theft,” the daily worker reinforces.
The police also say that João Vitor was shot again during a PM operation in Cidade de Deus last February 13, at Rua Jeremias, in the locality known as 15. At the time, he would also have been rescued at Lourenço Jorge.
The mother also denies the information that he was shot earlier. The police also state that, at the time, the case was registered at the 32nd DP (Taquara) and that the young man was not arrested.
Regarding her son’s behavior, the daily cleaner says that when he was 15 years old he went through a period of “rebelliousness”, which lasted about two years, when he didn’t want to study.
She also says that she moved from Salvador, Bahia, to Rio de Janeiro, to try to improve the conditions of her life. Regarding the death of her son, the woman says that she’s “lost”.
“What is right is for children to bury their parents. Today I’m going to bury my son. What saddens me most is the way my son was killed, because it was a very barbaric thing. We are tired of watching the operations on television … on Monday João Pedro died, yesterday my son died. How many other Joãos are going to die? How many other children and teenagers are going to die in these crazy operations of life?”, she asks.
Asked about the mother’s denial of her son’s involvement in organized crime, the chief responsible for the operation said he understood “her suffering” and that “I sincerely wish she wasn’t going through this”.
“Behind an investigation, there are serious, hard-working and committed professionals. When the Civil Police look for a target, we go based on concrete evidence. We don’t go to exchange shots and kill anyone. Unfortunately this decision is the author’s. There is an intelligence job behind. We don’t go into the favela to see what will happen”, reinforces Rodrigues.
Regarding yesterday’s operation, the chief assesses that “the work was successful”
“Unfortunately he (João Vitor) chose to confront the police. Thank goodness no police officers were injured and no residents, no innocent people were injured. This is a result that we have as successful”, he highlights.
Like the Civil Police, the PM said the agents went to Cidade de Deus to check complaints about drug trafficking.
“During the entry of the teams, the criminals fired and there was confrontation. A man was hit and rescued at the Lourenço Jorge Municipal Hospital, in Barra da Tijuca. A pistol was seized at the scene,” the corporation said in a note.