Note from BW of Brazil: As we have seen far too many times to count, the country of the World Cup continues to be a country where people routinely lose their lives in senseless manners that show little regard for human life. Although 50 years has passed since the beginning of a brutal Military Dictatorship that lasted for 21 years (1964-1985), sometimes it’s hard to tell that Brazilians aren’t still living in that dark period. With murder rates more fitting for a country at war and Military Police that routinely murder and discriminate against young, black youth, one can understand how some Brazilians ask, “what’s changed?” Last month, the shooting of a poor black woman and the subsequent dragging of her body on the ground from the back of a police van enraged many and once again showed to the world the (little) value of life in Brazil. Since that time, Brazilians in three major cities, in Rio, São Paulo and the Federal District of Brasília have taken to the streets in memory of the woman who simply went to the store to buy some bread but ended losing her life instead. Below, are the stories, touching photos and videos from those rallies.
“We are all Cláudias”: 200 people protest against racism in the Federal District
Article and photos courtesy of Mídia Independente Coletiva – MIC, Correio Braziliense and Agência Brasil
About 200 people rallied to call attention to the death of service assistant Cláudia da Silva Ferreira in Rio de Janeiro.
In a political act of solidarity regarding the death of services assistant Cláudia da Silva Ferreira, about 200 people came together in the march denominated “Somos todas Cláudias (We are all Cláudias)” at the bus station of the Plano Piloto area of the Federal District on Tuesday (March 25). Cláudia was shot and dragged on the ground attached to the back of a police van on Sunday, March 16th, in Rio de Janeiro.
The group in front of the escalator at the bus station. Some passengers who needed to enter the road station faced difficulties accessing the gates.
The movement of the protest left the Praça Zumbi dos Palmares (Square), in Conic (Diversão Sul Sector). The two-way link connecting Conic with the bus station road was blocked for a few minutes. The event’s organizer, Cris Pereira, said the act serves to honor Cláudia, who died in a “truculent manner.”
The protesters sang songs in tribute to the victim and distributed her pictures. Women wore shirts with the message: “sou negra, em caso de emergência não deixe a polícia ‘socorrer’” (I’m black, in case of emergency don’t let the police “help” me). Later they screamed, “sem hipocrisia, essa polícia mata negro todo dia” (without hypocrisy, these police kill black people every day).
The executive producer Gabriela Fernandes, 27, referred to the repercussion of Cláudia’s death as “a fact that gained magnitude just because someone filmed it, but there are other cases where people die and nobody knows, Brazil must open their eyes to this.”
Political-cultural act in São Paulo remembers the death of Cláudia Ferreira
On April 18th, black women’s organizations in São Paulo organized a political-cultural event in honor of Cláudia. The event was called A Paixão de Cláudia (The Passion of Cláudia) in reference to Holy Friday.
“It’s a metaphor for women who have suffered so much on behalf of other people, children, husbands, nephews, several generations sustained by them,” explained one of the organizers of the event, Nina Vieira, a member of the collective Manifesto Crespo (meaning curly/kinky) and Roda da Mãe Preta (Black Mother’s Circle). The act began in front of the Igreja da Consolação (Church), downtown, and followed in procession to the sound of drums, around 3:30pm, up to the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos (Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men) church. “The drums are a way to connect with our ancestors, especially the fighters.”
After an hour of walking, participants arrived at the Mãe Preta (Black Mother) statue in front of the church, and made an offering of red roses. “The act aims to not only talk about what happened to Cláudia, but also about what the entire black population faces daily at the neglect of governments,” Nina said. She pointed out that the proposal is to make a political act, but peacefully. “For this, we also chose to do it on a holiday. It’s not our idea to disrupt traffic downtown,” she said.
The widower of Cláudia, Alexandre Fernandes Silva, 42, who also attended the ceremony, noted that the presence of the state normally occurs through violence in the slums. “There are communities that the UPP [Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora or Pacifying Police Unit] treats the resident the same as before, nothing has changed,” he said. Cláudia was a services assistant, mother of four children and four nephews she cared for. Alexandre today is responsible for the education of eight children and adolescents.
The act continued with a cultural show in the Largo Paissandu area. Traditional dance groups were invited, such as Jongo, Sarar de Mulheres Negras (soiree of black women), rappers, djs and dancers. The educator Adriana Gonçalves, 30, decided to attend the protest because she evaluates that cases like Cláudia are emblematic regarding the treatment given to blacks. “We have a very short memory. We cannot let this go by without a momentary commotion,” she said. According to the agenda, the cultural activities would follow until 8pm.
WE ARE ALL CLÁUDIA!
How many more Amarildos do we need to lose for you to do your part??
The death of Cláudia Silva Ferreira is a cry of many. The cry of a whole people excluded, abused without privileges. The cry of the Amarildos and so many other cries for Justice, that here, besides being blind, is deaf…or cynical. Cláudia had to scream so loud… so strong that her cry overtook social barriers, came down the hill, echoed in the air…suffered…joined itself with ours, made itself our cry.
On March 26, 2014, ten days after her death, musicians and demonstrators met in the Largo do Machado for an homage to Cláudia. “Canto de Xango” (song) led the procession towards the Palácio Guanabara, which protested against the demilitarization of the police. The asphalt dyed blood-red bellowed into the eyes and ears of all who passed by: Enough of the slaughter! Justice in the case of Cláudia’s death, a resident of Morro de Congonha (Congonha Hill), dragged more than 300 meters by a Military Police van, after having been shot.
Despite the artistic and performative character of demonstration, riot police were called to intimidate protesters, however, they bravely resisted the taunts, concluding the rally without major mishaps.
And the cry still echoes…