Police violence and oppression against protesters in Brazil: Welcome to the everyday experience of the black and poor community

Repression witnessed in protests is the daily experience of black and poor communities
Repression witnessed in protests is the daily experience of black and poor communities

Note from BW of Brazil: As you might or might not already know, police violence, oppression and murder are topics that are frequently discussed on this blog. The brutality with which the Military Police treats darker, poorer communities could arguably we defined as genocide, considering the unbelievable number of assassinations of citizens that are committed every year. The number of murders both committed by the police as well as murders committed by the general population (which are often committed by off-duty police who hide their identities), are comparable to the numbers of casualties of countries that are at war. The point of the following article is that the brutality that the world witnessed against participants during the historic protests of the past few weeks is just a sample of the treatment the Afro-Brazilian/poor/periphery communities experience everyday. The question? Why is it that this sort of treatment is only noted when persons of lighter/whiter are violated? Is this another example showing that violence against darker-skinned people is less shocking?

Para Servir e Proteger (To serve and protect)?

To the Military Police and bourgeois government, blacks and the poor are troublemakers and rioters from birth; against the manipulative chatter of the bourgeois press: for the dissolution of the Military Police

In some protests spread across the country people had the opportunity to see how the Military Police (MP or PM- Polícia Militar) works in the everyday life of black and poor communities; what followed were the attempts of the bourgeois press to show the police as a protector of the protesters, not the opposite.

In the first demonstrations the bourgeois press insisted on calling the protesters “vandals”, “troublemakers” who were causing mayhem in cities and preventing the right to come and go as if that right existed in any day.

On Thursday, June 13th, the Military Police of (Geraldo) Alckimin and (Fernando) Haddad (governor and mayor of the state and city of São Paulo) gave the command to the police to act with “firmness” in relation to the protests. A command that resulted in a war where only the MP had the means to fight, bombs, rubber bullets and batons. Reporters of the bourgeois press included, it personally proved that the MP shoots in the face, arrests innocent people and distills suppression. They don’t exist to protect anyone; they didn’t shoot “suspects” or at those who “reacted” but they did shoot the innocent in the face.

The Movimento Negro (black rights movement) and poor communities released notes and texts that read: This is what happens every day here.

The action of the MP put all of those groups on the defensive, including the left, which defended the MP “strikes”, and raised platforms for better working conditions (repression) of the corporation.

Since the protest reached the periphery (outskirts/favelas/poor communities), the result is straightforward, without a lot of white flags or negotiation. There is no agenda “against corruption” or “against impunity” and a police car is usually the first target attacked by slum inhabitants repressed by the PM for decades.

Thursday’s disaster in which the MP ripped the eyes out of the press, literally, instantly showed that the MP could not act in this way. “Alright exterminate residents of the periphery”, but ripping out the eyes of the press and shooting ladies dressed in white in downtown São Paulo it cannot.

Journalista Giuliana Vallone was shot in her right eye by a Military Police rubber bullet on June 13.
Journalista Giuliana Vallone was shot in her right eye by a Military Police rubber bullet on June 13.

In Rio de Janeiro, the MP didn’t even hesitate. They shot with real lead, hoping to execute the “troublemakers” whom, for them, it’s enough just being negro (black) or pardo (mulato/brown). Or wearing something suspicious. For the MP, blacks are the troublemakers by nature.

Art by Carlos Latuff
Art by Carlos Latuff

Some protests that followed that disastrous Thursday showed that the target was the repression. As one hasn’t seen for years, MP cars were overturned and set on fire in several states. People jumped on top of MP cars while still on fire and threw rocks into the ashes and spit on burning Military Police posts.

"Why do the rubber bullets in white skin stir more emotions than the real bullets that kill the black population every day?" - Guellwar Adún
“Why do the rubber bullets in white skin stir more emotions than the real bullets that kill the black population every day?” – Guellwar Adún

The fear of the government is to cause a war with whoever always stood against the action of the MP, in any place or any in situation there was. And events have forced security departments to engraft Military Police and other agents of repression within the protests. Well disguised, sometimes blatant, as was the case in the military bands that helped in the chorus of the national anthem, in what seemed like a march to a military coup in the 1964 model.

On the other hand, the bourgeois press insists that it is the vandals and hooligans, though minorities, now, who attack vehicles and police, plain clothed or not, or state buildings. It states that the MP promotes the safety of the demonstration and that they are at the protests to protect.

For those who live or have ever lived in the periphery the MP uniform tends to cause more angst than any other clothing. When the sirens are turned on so is the anger. In the community the MP come to put a stop to everything: bailes funk (funk dances), parties, soccer games, community meetings, masses. It’s curfew, it’s a state of siege. What happens is that the MP comes to “disperse”. There doesn’t even need to be a protest.

The so-called “right to come and go” of residents of black and poor communities of Brazil, and the cities under unknown UPP (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora or Pacifying Police Unit) (1) repression it never even existed. Wherever there is UPP, military occupation, Força Nacional (Força Nacional de Segurança Pública or National Force of Public Security) (2) or Military Police, the right to come and go comes with being searched, questioned, tortured, and shot. The MP acts on principle against the right to come and go of blacks and the poor.

In these places the protest arises, usually at the end of police repression. It was like this in all the communities occupied by UPP in Rio de Janeiro. It’s like this in all peripheries. Health care is bad, education doesn’t exist, salary is a handout, but the repression of the cops, pé de bota (Military Police)…the coxinhas (in this case, meaning police), the army soldiers … this is the worst of all.

Before the chatter of the bourgeois press that MPs are “together” to protest; before the right-wing middle class, which takes the discourse of “safety” of the protests; before pacifism where there has never been any, there is no greater struggle of the agenda of the Movimento Negro than the end of the MP, the dissolution of all the repressive apparatus of the state, the right to self-defense and military expulsion from the slums and communities that are occupied.


1. The Pacifying Police Unit (Portuguese: Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, also translated as Police Pacification Unit), abbreviated UPP, is a law enforcement and social services program pioneered in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which aims at reclaiming territories, more commonly favelas, controlled by gangs of drug dealers. The program was created and implemented by State Public Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame, with the backing of Rio Governor Sérgio Cabral. The stated goal of Rio’s government is to install 40 UPPs by 2014. Source: Wiki

2. The Força Nacional de Segurança Pública (FNSP or National Public Security Force), established in 2004 and located in the vicinity of the Federal District, in the municipality of Luziânia, is a cooperative program of Brazilian Public Security, coordinated by the National Secretariat of Public Security (SENASP), the Ministry of Justice (MJ). It is a body that was created during the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, devised by Minister of Justice Márcio Thomaz Bastos. Source: Wiki

Source: Partido da Causa Operária

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

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