Note from BBT: You know, there comes a time when you simply run out of words to express your sentiments. This is especially true when you continue to see the same
tragedies extermination techniques being carried out. Even becoming aware of the level of violence by agents of the state in states like Rio de Janeiro and Bahia more than 15 years ago, it’s still difficult to register how often the Brazil eliminates the lives of its black citizens. This is all I could think when I began seeing how many people were posting the news of the death of another young black Brazilian. This time, 24-year-old Kathlen Romeu.
Without having read the news the first time her photo appeared on my timeline, all I wondered was, who is this beautiful young black woman that keeps appearing on my feed. But then it hit me. Another life violently ended due to a police action. If that wasnt tragic enough, then I learned that she was pregnant with her first child. I…simply…don’t…have….any…words…
When I first saw Katlen’s face, I didn’t think I knew who she was. But then as the news of her death took over the media, I then discovered that I actually had seen her face before. She was one of the beautiful black women that appeared in the video of the song ‘Pretinho Tipo A’ by Leo Santana and Thiaguinho that I covered a few years ago. Two more black lives snuffed out and others whose lives have been turned upside down….again.
For years I listened as Brazilians consistently argued that their country wasn’t racist or at least not as racist as the United States. ‘’We never had a KKK in Brazil’’, people would always say to justify their belief that Brazil was clearly less racist than the US. But, as I’ve argued countless times, when you compare the numbers, this argument flies in the wind.
‘’Why?’’, someone unfamiliar with the genocide going on Brazil might ask. After all, weren’t the KKK one of the most violent hate groups in the history of the world? ‘’Look at all the violence that this group inflicted upon black Americans. Surely you can’t compare Brazil with that,’’ someone might say.
Well, actually, when you do the comparison, the verdict is clear. Brazil kills far more black people than the US, even when we include the violence of organized vigilante groups like the KKK. I’ve crunched the numbers several times and there’s simply no way to avoid my conclusion.
If you define black in Brazil as all blacks and browns, Brazil kills 17 times more persons of African descent than the US. in total numbers, Brazil’s police regularly kill 5-6 times more people than American police. Now, consider the terrorist crime of lynching so often associated with white lynch mobs, the KKK and rogue police.
Official numbers show us that, at the height of lynching in the us, 1882-1968, there were 4,743 lynchings in the US, 1,297 victims being white, 3,446 being black. In other words, 73% of the victims of these crimes were black. In comparison, today in Brazil, about 77% of victims of police violence are non-white. These figures were recently updated to almost 6,500 victims, the majority being black.
Add this to the fact that, for at least two decades, but probably longer, Brazil’s police have regularly killed as many as five times more people annually than American police, the majority of those victims being non-white and then we can confirm which country violently takes more lives of black people and it’s not the United States. I’m in no position to defend police in the United States, but if the subject is a killing machine of black people, Brazil is the champion hands down.
I know that when people read these stories about Brazil’s murderous people, they may argue, ‘’well, they don’t mean to kill these people; it’s just their duties to fight crime.’’ This also doesn’t fly because, Brazil’s police don’t enter majority white communities with guns blazing. Many people have pointed out that a large proportion of drug trafficking clients in Brazil are from well-to-do, white, middle class neighborhoods but you don’t see these neighborhoods under siege by routine police invasions.
There’s simply no denying this. Black bodies falling to the ground due to police bullets has been going on for decades and the reckless abandon these police have when entering majority non-white/black communities simply proves the point. Maybe we can agree that police don’t aim to specifically kill the people, most often innocent, who die during these actions (that’s up for debate). But having shoot outs in areas in which people live will often times lead to death or serious injury. So, with intent or not of killing innocent victims, the result is the same.
I say again, as I always have. Call it what it is. GENOCIDE.
Kathlen Romeu: woman, mother, black and yet another victim of the Police State
The 24-year-old designer and model was killed in an armed confrontation in the Lins community, in Rio de Janeiro; she was pregnant with her first child
By Isabella Otto
Another black life was interrupted in a community in Rio de Janeiro during an armed confrontation. Kathlen Romeu, 24, an interior designer, FARM (clothing brand) saleswoman and model, was killed in the Lins community, in the northern part of the city. The young woman, who was four months pregnant, was, according to the military police (MP), the victim of a stray bullet.
Authorities also said that it all happened because UPP (Pacifying Police Unit) police were cornered by members of a faction known as “Beco da 14”. During the exchange of fire, Kathlen ended up getting hit. The victim was taken to the Salgado Filho Municipal Hospital, in Méier, but she succumbed to her injury.
Marcelo Ramos, the girl’s boyfriend, spoke on social networks about what happened. He said he was completely shattered and that neither she nor the baby, who was to be named Maya, if she were a girl, or Zayon, if he were a boy, will be forgotten. “Sometimes it’s hard to understand God’s will, but I know you’re better than us. Here I will only miss and remember you, the most radiant and lively person I’ve ever met in my life. I will win for you! May God give me strength. I love you forever”, he posted on Instagram.
Luciano Gonçalves, father of the model, also spoke in an emotional appeal to Bom Dia Rio, on TV Globo. “Ninety-nine percent of the community are good people. The same operation that you constantly have in our area, in the South Zone, you don’t do it. My daughter was the most special thing in my life. A good person, intelligent,” he vented. After the report, the journalist and host, Flávio Fachel, blamed the criminals for what happened. “The banditry dominates these areas where the State is not present,” he said. The MP guarantees that the shot that killed the young woman didn’t come from a weapon belonging to the police and that no police action was taking place at the scene.
The Civil Police informed that “witnesses will be heard and steps will be taken to clarify all the facts and identify where the shot that struck the victim came from.” A protest on the Grajaú-Jacarepaguá Highway took place shortly after the young woman and her child died. In networks, the revolt for yet another black life lost in a Rio community is great – and necessary. “It’s not possible that for us there is only pain. And it only hurts, because we mourn the death of our son, father, uncle, and we don’t have the opportunity to dream. This pain that the State always throws in our laps, where do we put it? Where will our hatred move us? A genocidal state,” wrote the Human Rights activist and columnist for the Revista Autismo, Luciana Viegas, on Twitter.
This pain that the State always throws in our laps, where do we put it? Where will our hate move us?
GENOCIDE STATE. And for us there’s more than that lump in our throat and the fear of knowing that one of these days it could be me or mine.
May guias protect and comfort the family.
— luciana viegas ♿ (@luu_viegas) June 8, 2021
Diego Tbt, history professor and member of the Gazela Negra collective, also stated: “It’s revolting, but it gives nothing. The state puts five-year secrecy into the investigation and the killers continue there. There is no salvation in a Police State. It’s death for us,” he said.
I just found out about Kethlen Romeu’s case and unfortunately, I have nothing to say that I haven’t already said dozens of times.
It’s revolting, but it gives nothing. The state puts five-year secrecy into the investigation and the killers continue there.
There is no salvation in a Police State. It’s death for us.
— Diego Tbt (@ReTintaPreta) June 8, 2021
Famous people also began to get angry on the networks. Nanda Costa shared on Instagram the print of a tweet asking how many black lives it will take for people to start caring.
Writer and columnist Atila Roque, whose post was shared by the actress, used the networks to send a message to fellow journalists: “Don’t accept the official version, don’t repeat that it was an exchange of fire or a stray bullet. Don’t call this disaster a police operation. Don’t be part of the concealment of this genocide,” he wrote.
This Thursday, 10, would complete a week since Kathlen Romeu shared the news that she was pregnant on Instagram. “Today I am writing this text feeling very happy and fulfilled. I feel like I now have a bigger reason to be the coolest person ever! You know that girl-woman that people admire and are proud of?! Today she wants to be more and more!!! All for this little being that I carry in here!”, celebrated the young mother of 24 years of life, which last Tuesday was interrupted. “A news that is repeated so often that it makes you nauseous. Innocent people. Black. Dead. Police operation. The Brazilian state is not at war on drugs. Since its formation, it has been serving the extermination of the black and peripheral population. It’s no longer possible to pretend that it’s not,” pointed out actor Icaro Silva on Instagram.
Kathlen Romeu didn’t die from a stray bullet, journalists from Brazil
By Kauê Vieira
Kathlen Romeu’s photos have flooded social media in the last 24 hours. The black woman, wearing an asymmetrically designed flat nagô braid, appears smiling, with a white blazer no less pretty than her face and hairstyle.
This journalist who is writing to you came to think that it was just another black woman on the cover of a magazine. Have you seen the wonderful work of people like Suyane Ynaya? Did you ever notice Camilla de Lucas’ exuberance on the cover of Elle?
It wasn’t a magazine cover. It was, in fact, the last record of yet another black girl murdered in Brazil. Kathlen Romeu was killed in an alleged exchange of fire between police and drug dealers in a favela in Rio de Janeiro.
Kathlen’s smile had reason. The 24-year-old girl was pregnant with her first child. The photo shoot was precisely to celebrate the growth of her belly, a symbol of the love of Kathlen and Marcelo Ramos, her partner.
Kathlen Romeo was 24 years old
It’s Dia dos Namorados (Brazil’s Valentine’s Day) week in Brazil, nothing more natural than an overdose of people celebrating love, so necessary in times where authoritarianism seems to suffocate. It doesn’t seem like it, because the excesses of a State that doesn’t care about its population really suffocate, see covid-19, which mainly affects those who have not completed high school and work in professions that are socially despised.
São Paulo, which has 40% of its population made up of black people, has registered a 20% increase in deaths among Afro-Brazilians since the beginning of the pandemic that has killed nearly 500,000 Brazilians so far. The increase among whites did not exceed 11%.
Kathlen didn’t die of covid. She was murdered by another Brazilian wound, the racist violence of the armed wing of the State: the police. And, before they say that the police made a mistake or it didn’t work out, reflect. The corporation strictly follows the objectives proposed by the Brazilian State since slavery: the extermination of as many black people as possible.
Not even in a pandemic are the bodies of blacks are spared. Dear reader, dear reader, it hasn’t been a month since social networks were taken over by images of other interrupted black dreams.
Stray bullet, dear journalist?
The abuse of the police commanded by the Rio de Janeiro State government in Jacarezinho is still fresh in memory – at least in the memory of the father who had his daughter’s room bathed in blood. How do you live?
That police operation in Jacarezinho killed 28 people. All bandits or criminal records, the State tries to sell. As if that justified. The worst is that it sticks. A large part of the Brazilian press is at fault in the registry.
Black genocide has a face, zip code and address. Have you read the newspapers today? Police operation, stray bullet, the crying of the family that is orphaned, two or three bureaucratic speeches from the government and life that goes on. Will we have another newspaper with only black journalists?
Jacarezinho was the target of slaughter with 28 dead
Stray bullets don’t exist. The bullet is not stray, it has a target. The bullet from the MP’s rifle always hits a black body. The Monitor of Violence shows that, in 2020 in Brazil, 78% of those killed by the police were black. This means that four out of every five people killed by the civil and military police in 2020 were pretos (black) or pardos (brown).
The research is by the G1, in partnership with the Brazilian Public Security Forum and the USP Violence Study Nucleus, which was based on conflicts with civilians or unnatural injuries with the participation of active police officers.
Kathlen Romeu, 24, died after an alleged exchange of gunfire between the military police in Rio de Janeiro and drug dealers from the Barro Vermelho community, in Lins de Vasconcelos, in the northern part of the marvelous city. Kathlen was 14 weeks pregnant with her first child.
How long are we journalists going to chicken out? How long are we going to call what happened to Kathlen a police operation? Is it all in the name of half a dozen seized rifles and a few grams of marijuana or cocaine? Is such a drug war a justification for taking a young woman full of dreams with a baby who hasn’t even seen the light of day?
The name of this is GENOCIDE. Kathlen was murdered by the Brazilian State, which still doesn’t tell us who the authors of the death of Councilwoman Marielle Franco are. Little Miguel, son of Mirtes, died due to the negligence of his mother’s boss, Sari Corte Real, exactly one year ago. Miguel was five years old and fell from a luxury building because of his mother’s boss’s impatience, who didn’t come for the boy when he missed his mother. So, what is the definitive opinion of the courts? Is there justice for a black mother?
Will most of the Brazilian press buy this version again? What is the interest of the major media outlets in this country in not facing racism head on?
The military police have to stop. It’s not possible that we watch, every day, the extermination of black lives in the most unsafe country for a black person to live in. Society is sick, but we are the ones who foot the bill.
When will this stop?
“A childhood friend, who has always struggled since she was young, who was proud of her parents and was expecting a child. Nobody can take this killing anymore, we have to end this clowning. They killed a worker, a sweet girl who was fulfilled because of being a mother,” a friend of Kathlen Romeu told UOL.