Note from BW of Brazil: So many questions about this case. A few days ago, I shared the shocking images of a 17-year old black teen stripped naked and being whipped by security guards of a supermarket in the city of São Paulo. The images hit social networks before the news even got hold of it and quickly went viral. Many people I know who were exposed to the video stopped watching it after the first few seconds. And for good reason. What would drive a human being to abuse another human being in such a manner? Obviously too many possibilities to list here. For many, the video conjured up images of how blacks were treated during the slavery era, a fact that leads to even more issues.
When I first presented this story a few days ago, I didn’t want to assume whether the perpetrators were white or black because in Brazil, unfortunately, violence of blacks on other blacks is all too common. We know, for example, that black Brazilians make up a sizable percentage of Brazil’s extremely violent Military Police that are known for entering mostly black and poor favela slums with wreckless abandon, taking shots and asking questions afterwards. We also know that recent reports show us that 75% of victims of homicide in Brazil are non-white. One report, after an 8-year study of murders in Brazil concluded that death simply preferred dark skin.
But now that we know that the men who tortured the 17-year old black teen were also black, what does this mean? In a country in which punishment, abuse and second-class treatment seems to be reserved for black people, why would two black men treat a black teenager in this manner? Do they not identify with the manner in which Brazil already treats its black population? Do these men have children of their own? Would they have whipped a white teen if they had caught him/her stealing something? Had they ever seen the 1835 painting by Jean-Baptiste Debret entitled “Aplicação do Castigo do Açoite”, meaning “Application of the Punishment of the Whip”? The French painter was invited by the Portuguese Crown to portray the type of torture blacks endured during Brazil’s slavery era.
In the painting, a slave is shown tied to a tronco or whipping post, wearing a shirt but with his pants down around his ankles while another man whips his bare ass. Blood is shown on the man’s buttocks after having already received several lashes. Both the slave and man administering the whipping are black. Other slaves, accompanied by security forces, are shown looking on in the background. This was the first image that came to my mind after learning that the perpetrators were also black.
Had the perpetrators been whipped this way by their own parents? Is this a situation in which blacks, after centuries of abuse perpetrated by whites, have assumed the role of brutalizing other blacks in the same manner? Two colleagues, both African-Americans posed two questions that I thought were worth asking others.
- If this were the black teen’s parents punishing him for theft, would this be acceptable?
- Could such a whipping have happened in the African-American community?
My response to the first question is that this is absolutely unacceptable as it crosses the line from discipline into the realm of child abuse. The video was filmed possibly back in July and even now, the young man still has welts on his skin from the abuse. Now in terms of the second question, this is perhaps a question that would probably need more debate.
In recent years, a number of videos have been shown on YouTube and eventually on news programs in the US showing black men aggressively whooping teenage black males with belts. In two of them, both men claimed to have whipped the teens out of concern or love and a desire to curb the possibility of the teens meeting unfortunate fates if they were not steered into a more straight and narrow path. Although those two and other videos did indeed show quite aggressive whoopings, I still see stripping a teenager down to their skin and applying a whipping to the point that it leaves marks on the skin as being several steps beyond a “regular” whooping. The other question is, with the horrors of slavery still being discussed in the African-American community today, would black Americans perpetrate the EXACT same violence that was inflicted upon the teen in São Paulo which such strong connections that dark era? What do you think?
Court orders arrest of David Oliveira Fernandes, one of the security guards accused of whipping teenager in supermarket
Security guard suspected of torturing black teen in supermarket arrested; video of 17-year old reminded many of slavery era
The arrest order came from criminal judge Tatiana Saes Valverde Ormeleze and hosts representation from the Civil Police of São Paulo.
With information from Jornal de Brasília and Ponte
David Oliveira Fernandes, one of the former Ricoy supermarket security guards investigated for torturing a 17-year-old, was arrested Friday in the 80th Police District of Vila Joaniza, southern São Paulo. The other security guard, Valdir Bispo dos Santos, remains at large. After being caught, the teenager was taken to a back room, stripped naked, gagged and repeatedly whipped. A 40-second video of the abuse was circulated n social networks.
It was the type of theft defined by the legislation as “hunger-driven”, in which the author is not even condemned. In this case, he was also a minor and has lived on the streets since he was 12 years old.
The arrest order came from criminal judge Tatiana Saes Valverde Ormeleze and hosts representation from the Civil Police of São Paulo. The magistrate also authorized searches and seizures against those investigated.
The judge notes that “there are strong elements linking those represented to the perpetration of the crime of torture, so much so that recordings of the offended being flogged by security were released.” “In addition, the victim’s account is detailed in pointing out how the assaults occurred.”
“Furthermore, it is presumable that the relocation of the defendant in liberty, after being taken to the police station, could completely frustrate the investigative attempt and it is easy to conclude that, once aware of the suspicions that fall upon him, the agent would seek to erase clues and conceal evidence and, which would irretrievably disturb the investigations. In short, it is necessary to clarify as soon as possible the circumstances of the very serious crime, justifying the expedient,” notes the magistrate.
The teen said last month, “at a date that he doesn’t remember, inside the Ricoy Supermarket, installed at the location of the facts, where he picked up a chocolate bar from the gondolas and tried to leave without paying”. “He was approached on the way out by the person known as Santos, local security, who he has known for some time.”
“He was assisted by Neto who together took the victim to a room in the back of the store,” she narrated.
The young man added. “There the victim was stripped, gagged, bound and tortured with a electric cord. He was there for about forty minutes, being beaten the whole time.”
‘They aimed a gun’
This is not the only investigation into the conduct of Ricoy security officers. A black woman denounced to the Civil Police, in April, a security approach of the Ricoy supermarket that made her “imagine being assaulted”.
The case would have occurred in April. The woman gave a statement to the 98th Police District, Jardim Miriam, southern São Paulo.
The approach took place, according to the victim, in a unit of Ricoy that is in the same avenue of the one in which the boy was whipped. The network has two units on the same avenue, in Vila Joaniza, south of São Paulo.
“One of them, pointing a gun, took the two bags out of her hands and searched them; she decided to return to the market to make sure that the two people who approached her were local employees,” says the police report.
‘Absurd injustice’: the pain of seeing his brother whipped inside a market
E., 17, is scared of so many recorders, microphones and cameras. In front of the 80th DP, in Vila Joaniza, south of São Paulo, he outlines in a nutshell the suffering that went on inside a unit of Ricoy supermarket chain, located on Avenida Yervant Kissajikian. The teenager was caught trying to steal a chocolate and two security guards took him to a back room of the establishment, left him naked, tied his hands up and beat him with lashes. The scene was recorded and disseminated by Whatsapp. The victim doesn’t know the precise date of the incident, only that it happened in July.
“They took me by force, they tied up my arm, they beat me with a whip, they put something in my mouth,” says the young man. “They threatened me with death. They said if I told someone that they would kill me,” he said. The teenager also stated that the same security guards had beaten him two other times.
The police chief investigating the case, Pedro Luís de Sousa, defines the case as “a barbarism. It goes back to the times of slavery. This is inadmissible. I’ve never seen anything like this in 42 years of police.” He told Ponte that he was impressed by the fact that even after weeks of aggression, the marks persist and are visible. “The brands are very peculiar, they match with lashings, even after a long period, but we don’t have the exact date”, declared Sousa.
The aggressors were identified as Valdir Bishop of Santos, the Santos, and David Oliveira Fernandes, known as Neto. Both are outsourced labor, but the supermarket chain declined to name the company when questioned by Ponte. Upon leaving the police station, the manager of the Ricoy supermarket unit made no statement to the press. The victim stated that Santos was the perpetrator of the assault and Neto recorded with his cell phone.
From an evangelical and poor family, E. was more on the street than at home at age 12 because of some friendships. Earlier this year, his father died in a fire in the shack where they lived and since then he has exchanged his house and paternal reference for the code of the streets. His mother has problems with alcoholism, a fact that made him not receive the necessary help since the death of his father. Besides him, there are seven other children of the couple. In the eyes of one of the brothers, Wagner Bispo de Oliveira, 30, this greatly destabilized the teenager, who ended up going to the street and started using drugs.
“I was trying to find a way to support him. We are not thieves, look at my hands, hands of workers, I have never had a run in with the police,” he told the press on Tuesday afternoon (9/3), in front of the police station. For Wagner, what happened was cowardice. “His mistake does not justify what was done. The population in the neighborhood is all offended by what happened. It was the height of the absurd, an injustice that happened to my brother,” he said.
The brother’s intention is to get treatment for E’s chemical dependency at CAPS (Psychosocial Support Center). The teenager was found in a region near the well-known supermarket called “cracolândia”, meaning ‘crackland’, for the sale and use of drugs.
“I’ll take care of him, I’ll take him to live with me. I’m sure if he goes back there he’ll be gone, something worse will happen to him. He was always a good person. Unfortunately his friendships weren’t cool. The boy’s out there. No one wants to know about him, his mother doesn’t care about him. If no one comes from the family to take action, he would be gone,” he said.
“In Brazil there is still a law and it is the law of the worker. If I’m not a thief, if I didn’t steal, I didn’t traffic, in this country here, in Brazil, I have my rights. It may be little, but it still exists. We will fight for the law, for justice.”
Police chief Pedro Luís Sousa says he learned about the story by receiving the video through Whatsapp. “He asked if I was aware of what happened. I was informed that it was a Vila Joaniza supermarket and so, considering something very serious, we went after it,” he reported. “I was with my daughter next door when I saw the video and she said, ‘Dad, what a horror.’ This is an absurdity. He was very afraid, didn’t want to go to the police station. We managed to find him in the community next to the supermarket,” he said.
After E. and his brother went to the police station, they and the boy’s mother, Josefa de Oliveira, were assisted by tutelary counselors in the area of Cidade Ademar, which Vila Missionária is part of. The professionals scheduled an appointment for next Thursday, September 5.
The case took on major proportions and some public figures such as state deputy Erica Malunguinho, MTST coordinator Guilherme Boulos, and historian Suzane Jardim, used Twitter accounts to express their repudiation and comment.
Erica Malunguinho ✔ @malunguinho
“Who naturalizes the whipping if not slave logic? Where is the collective indignation quiet when a young black man – in a situation of living on the streets – is subjected to a whipping? We could be talking about a distant Brazil, but it happened yesterday, with a 17-year-old in the South Zone of SP.”
Guilherme Boulos ✔ @GuilhermeBoulos
“The case of the young black man who was tied up and whipped by Ricoy market security guards in SP for trying to steal a chocolate is appalling. Brazilian social pathology gets worse every day. In addition to punishing those responsible, we must seriously consider what we have become.”
“Before bed I wanted to tell that when I was studying at USP I had some colleagues who went to the backpacking market to steal some things to spend the weekend in the student housing – from crackers to salami. Some have already been caught. None have ever gotten beaten. Much less a whipping. All of them white.”
The OAB-SP Human Rights Commission also expressed outrage on Facebook, an indignation regarding the case it called a session of torture. “The brutality and perversity of torture in the Ricoy Supermarket obliges the CDH/OAB-SP to express our extreme concern about the escalation of increasingly serious aggressions against the fundamental rights of Brazilian citizens. Brazilian society will not accept the continuity of this growing barbarism. This will not continue,” says the note.
The feeling was of rage around the Avenida Yervant Kissajikian Ricoy supermarket. Local traders condemned the security guard’s attitude in torturing the boy, as they defined it. “It was a cowardice. The boy lives next door. He may have done what he did, but nothing calls for what was done. It’s inadmissible,” said a street vendor in conversation with Ponte, requesting anonymity.
A security guard who ate in a tent 20 meters away from the establishment criticized the action of a man who performs the same function as him. “I’m a father, I placed myself as if he were my son. It is a barbarism. We returned to those times. I only remember something similar 200 years ago when blacks were enslaved. Nothing justifies torture, nothing,” lamented the man, who demanded explanations from President Jair Bolsonaro (PSL). “It has to be shown to the president, to [Sérgio] Moro [Minister of Justice and Public Security]. Something needs to be done. I voted for him to change things, but I’m regretting it. Everything just gets worse,” he lamented.
Ricoy supermarket chain sent a note to Ponte in the early afternoon stating that the company “dislikes this attitude and was indignantly aware of the facts through the report. That the company does not comply with any kind of illegality and will cooperate with the competent authorities involved in the investigation of the case in order to take the appropriate measures.” The company informs that employees are no longer service providers.