Note from BW of Brazil: A lot of people like to say that in Brazil, “there is a law against racism” when the discussion is about the existence of rampant racism throughout the country. As was written on this blog previously, a law doesn’t mean that racism suddenly stops or even that the law always works. A few months back, the Federal University of Minas Gerais saw no racist content in a practical joke on the campus involving the use of blackface and references to slavery, Hitler and German Nazis. In 1997, Simone Diniz had to go all the way to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to get justice after the Brazilian courts saw no racism in her case. This is not to say that all of these cases are the same; it simply goes to show that a law against racism, or more specifically, a racial slur/insult, doesn’t suddenly erase racist sentiments or how it is interpreted in the law. This is apparently the case even when the accused has been accused of the same crime before. This is a follow-up to a story first featured here back in May of 2012. See the latest developments below.
He reportedly said that the victim should be “taking care of orangutans” in Africa.
Courtesy of R7 and G1
According to the victim, the confusion began when the defendant tried to pass in front of other people who were in line at the cinema.
The judge of the 2nd Criminal Court of Brasília acquitted the doctor Heverton Octacílio Campos Menezes, denounced by the prosecution for a racial slur against an employee of a movie theater in a mall in the Asa Norte area of the city on April 29th of 2012. According to the magistrate, the defendant offended the dignity of the woman, but there is no evidence that there was racism. The doctor was eventually convicted solely for libel. Menezes said he will only move forward in regards to the court’s decision after talking with his lawyers. In May of last year, the doctor said that the situation in the line at the theater was a “regrettable episode and a misunderstanding.”
According to the complaint of the MP (Ministério Público or Public Prosecutor), the doctor offended the cinema employee, Marina Serafim dos Reis, referring to her skin color and practiced prejudice of race and color. According to the victim, the confusion started when the doctor tried to pass in front of other customers as he was running late to see a movie. He reportedly said that Marina should live in Africa to take care of orangutans.
Marina was contacted but declined to make a comment.
“Sua negra, volta para a África. Você está no lugar errado. Seu lugar não é aqui lidando com gente e sim com animais (You black, go back to Africa. You are in the wrong place. Your place is not here dealing with people, but with animals),” said the doctor, according to the complaint. The prosecutor requested the defendant’s conviction in penalties under the Lei de Combate ao Racismo (Law of Combating Racism).
Menezes denied that he had committed a racial slur. The judge said that he was in line at the box office and asked for preferential treatment because of his age. According to him, the film had already started and about 10 people were in line.
Questioned by the judge, the doctor said that he was harshly treated and that the clerk said he appeared to be 40 years old and that he should go back “to the end of the line.” According to the defendant, she refused to see his ID and said that he went to the end of the line.
The doctor also said that the event generated in other people the impression that he wanted to take cuts, “creating a behavioral danger of the group of people, since they began to scold me and say that I would be arrested.” At the fear of being assaulted, he decided to leave the mall hastily (see video below).
At sentencing, the judge said there was no doubt about the fact that the doctor offended the dignity of the victim, referring to her color, but it did not occur in a “context of racial discrimination, leaving evidence that the disagreement between the two occurred only because of disagreement about the time that should have been taken for the service.”
“Likewise, there is no evidence in the record of the crime of racism, rather, there are testimonies of several witnesses that the accused doesn’t discern between black or white people. I understand that his conduct doesn’t reveal a practice, inducement or incitement to discrimination or prejudice based on race, as such, I see no deceit in this sense,” the judge said.
Last year, the Civil Police reported that there were records of occurrences against the doctor in contempt, mild bodily injury, a slur and real injury. There is also a case for discriminatory injury, recorded in 2002. According to the corporation, Menezes was bothered with the posture of an election employee that tried to organize a preferential line for the elderly and pregnant women in the elections of that year and said “this here it looks like a banana republic and you’re a representative of it, sua neguinha (you blackie).”
Note from BW of Brazil: So the doctor sees this as only a “misunderstanding”? It didn’t seem like he misunderstood his words (negra, Africa, orangutans) when hurled them in the attendant’s direction. He immediately associated her physical appearance with Africa and animals. So, if these are the thoughts of a doctor (a psychoanalyst at that), what does this say about the thought patterns of the society in general in a similar situation? If it were just a “misunderstanding” why didn’t he stick around and explain his side of the story instead of running off like a *%$#@??? Ahhhh, life in Brazil’s “racial democracy”. Check out the video of the incident below and security footage of the doctor fleeing the scene below.
Video: Police identify psychiatric doctor that offended a black woman in a cinema of Brasília