Wrong place, wrong time? Singer arrested after getting off a bus later set ablaze in protest against prison conditions; young woman maintains her innocence



Note from BW of Brazil: Well there is certainly a lot going on this case! But once again, it’s nothing surprising because nearly all of the details presented in today’s story are common topics that this blog has touched on for years. The first detail is that a young black woman was detained for three days, which speaks to the issue of the rise in the overall numbers of black Brazilian women being imprisoned in Brazilian jails in recent years. The second issue is that she was imprisoned after a group of individuals set a bus ablaze in protest against the horrific conditions of prisoners in Brazilian jails, a situation that has caused three major outbreaks of violence within the prison system early in the year. The last issue is reminiscent of a case a few years ago in the northeast in which a black woman was imprisoned for the murder of an Italian tourist even though there was a lack of evidence that would connect her to the crime.  

Of course, we can never be completely sure that a violation of one’s rights is always linked to racism, and that applies to today’s case as well. But as black people in a country that ALWAYS negatively stereotypes them due to preconceived notions about race, we can never be sure when something is in fact racially motivated. In this case, as in countless others, the question always remains: had the woman who is being victimized in this case been a white man or woman, would there have been an assumption of her involvement or guilt? Which reminds of a case from the same city as today’s story. After being arrested during a protest, actor Alexandre de Sena had to ponder why  he was arrested while his  white friends were not….Hmmm…

Singer is arrested after giving signal to get off a bus that would be set ablaze

By Rafael D’Oliveira

The singer, songwriter and music student, Marcella Eduarda Januária Carvalho, known as Madu, 18, was arrested in the early hours of last Tuesday (14) after the bus she was on was being set on fire by a group of criminals.

According to the record of the occurrence, the young woman was on bus 342, when, arriving in the neighborhood of Castanheiras, in Barreiro, she gave a signal for the driver to stop. The student is a resident of Ocupação Eliana Silva, in the same region of Belo Horizonte.

At that moment, two individuals who were at the bus stop boarded the vehicle and announced that they would set the bus on fire as a retaliation for the precarious conditions of the São Joaquim de Bicas II prison.

The singer fled the scene, however, was arrested near the region and accused of involvement in the case. The girl was taken to the police station along with suspects who were also arrested.

According to the student’s mother, Sílvia Januária, 41, she learned of her daughter’s arrest through a police officer who declined to identify himself. “She didn’t come home and we thought she had slept at some friend’s house. This was when we received the call from an agent, informing us that Marcella was in the police station being unjustly imprisoned,” she says.

The mother says that Madu could not call because her cell phone’s battery had died and that, in addition, the policemen involved in the incident didn’t let him use the police station telephone to contact her parents.

The family sought assistance and, on Thursday afternoon, a hearing was held to discuss the case. However, the young woman was not presented for a personal interview with the judge.

“Marcella is being charged with a crime she didn’t commit, because of a distorted, prejudiced and racist view of the MP (Military Police). In addition, the prison system didn’t make a commitment to bring her to the hearing, contrary to human rights recommendations,” says Thales Viote, the singer’s lawyer and representative of the Human Rights Commission of the Brazilian Bar Association.

Even though Madu has never been arrested and has proven student and artist activities, the Judiciary has determined that she could only be released on bail of a minimum wage, use of an electronic anklet and house arrest.

Social groups organized themselves on the internet and were able to pay Marcella’s bail. She should be released by Saturday (18). Lawyers are still seeking the Habeas Corpus appeal to repeal the measures of the electronic anklet and house arrest.

Military Police

In a statement, the police took a stand on the fact. “The Military Police transported several people of the cited event, in the matter dealing with a bus burning. The MP, operator of the state of flagrancy, transports people according to the possible elements that the scenario offers the military that are found during the occurrence. At the time, in the military’s view, there were enough elements to lead those involved to the deliberation of the investigative police. Those involved were guaranteed physical safety, as well as all constitutional rights. Further information on the process of criminal prosecution must be perceived with the judicial police.”


Madu (at left with mother) was released on Saturday morning (Thales Viote/OAB + Personal Archive)

Belo Horizonte singer released, with electronic ankle tether, after three days of imprisonment

Courtesy of BHAZ newsroom

Madu was released late Saturday morning (18) from the São Joaquim of Bicas II prison, in the homonymous city of the metropolitan region of BH. The student was detained at dawn last Tuesday after signaling that she would get off of a bus that would be set ablaze in the region of Barreiro.

The Minas Gerais public security system, however, complied with her release after payment of bail within minutes of the legal limit, at noon on Saturday. “Now we will enter with habeas corpus, early next week, so that the ankle tether is removed. Madu has never been arrested, never convicted, has proven student and artist activities. It’s totally disproportionate,” says lawyer Viote.

Madu was received by her mother Sílvia and, despite all the inconvenience, she was calm. “She’s a very calm girl, she knows she didn’t do anything wrong,” reports Viote, who accompanied her release.

The young woman may only leave the house from 9am to 6pm on weekdays and from 9am to 3pm on Saturdays, provided she is able to work, study or receive religious guidance. On Sundays, she is forbidden to walk the streets.

The judge’s decision is for the singer to use the electronic ankle brace for six months, the period expected to complete the investigation. “We will sue the PM of Minas for this persecution of the residents of Eliana Silva. One of the military men said she was doing drug trafficking in Ocupação (Eliana Silva),” she says.

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Madu has just been released after several days in prison for a crime she did not commit. Being criminalized because of being a black woman, a resident of Ocupação, but resisting with the strength she has and with the support of the family, of all the companions and supporters!

We will not let this INJUSTICE go unpunished; we will fight so that it does not repeat itself! Let’s not remain silent! We will continue in STRUGGLE until we are all free!

Source: BHAZ, BHAZ (2)

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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