Vidas Negras Importam In Rio: Protest Against Police Violence
Note from BW of Brazil: So, as we can see, it’s not only the United States where police actions are leading people to take to the streets. There’s clearly more going on behind the scenes in the US than the media cares to report, but in Brazil, where questions were just raised as to what it will take to move Afro-Brazilians to action against the ongoing genocidal actions of police forces, Sunday, hundreds of protesters took their demands to the governor’s mansion. In reality, such manifestations are long overdue.
Various reports have shown us just how lethal Brazil’s police are in comparison to their counterparts in the US. According to some reports, police in Brazil kill five times more people than American police. In fact, as I’ve reported numerous times, the cities of Rio and São Paulo outnumber all American police forces combined in numbers of murders both together and as individual cities.
In 2019, for example, a total of 1,004 Americans were shot and killed by police across the country. In that same year, police in Rio de Janeiro alone murdered more than 1,800 people. With 75% of those deaths being preto e pardo (black and brown), the situation is beyond a state of emergency. The death of 14-year old João Pedro last month was just the latest in a long line of people who have died young due to police actions.
In Rio, protesters participate in act for black lives at the Guanabara Palace
Courtesy of Jovem Pan
Protesters gathered, at a distance from each other, at the door of the Guanabara Palace, headquarters of the government of Rio, for an act in defense of black lives. The Sunday afternoon demonstration (31) takes place amid the wave of protests in the United States over the death of George Floyd, suffocated by the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The demonstration was motivated by the death of the boy João Pedro Mattos Pinto, hit by a 556 caliber rifle shot in his back when he was inside his uncles’ house in the community of Salgueiro, on May 18th. The protests against police violence in the US also served as an inspiration for the mobilization in Rio de Janeiro.
The demonstration began at 3 pm, occurred peacefully, had measures to guarantee the distance between the participants who carried banners against the death of blacks in confrontations with the police, until the conflict with the Military Police began, practically at the end of the act.
The act was held at 3 pm and had measures to guarantee the distance between the participants. According to the organizers, about 300 people were present at the protest, which lasted about 1 hour. The agents threw gas bombs and used pepper spray on the protesters. There was also a lot of running in the streets near the Palace.
Activists present said on social media that the protesters behaved in a peaceful manner until the PM action began. Globo News caught a policeman aiming a rifle at the head of a man who had been approached during the act.
The participants call for an end to the death of young blacks in the favelas – such as that of the teenager João Pedro, aged 14, who died this month during a police operation in the Complexo do Salgueiro, in the municipality of São Gonçalo. He was inside the house when he was hit.
João Pedro was playing in his uncles’ house during a joint operation carried out by the PM (Military Police) and the Civil Police. Three civil police officers were removed from their duties on the street after the operation, and admitted to having fired more than 60 times during the action.
Forensics carried out by DHNSGI (Homicide Police in Niterói, São Gonçalo and Itaboraí), responsible for the investigation of the crime, found about 70 marks of fire on the property.
At the request of the Public Defender’s Office of Rio, which represents the family of João Pedro, the MP-RJ (Public Prosecutor of Rio) opened a PIC (Criminal Investigative Procedure) to carry out an independent operation on the case, as there is a determination by the IACHR (Inter-American Court of Human Rights) so that Rio authorities prevent police corporations from investigating alleged crimes committed by their own members. The decision is part of the judgment of the Nova Brasília Case, which punished Brazil for failing to guarantee an impartial investigation into two massacres that took place in the community – which is part of the Complexo do Alemão – in 1994 and 1995.
The PIC will be conducted by promoters from Gaesp (Specialized Public Security Action Group), which carries out actions to control police activity in the state. According to the Federal Police, the operation was carried out to serve two arrest warrants against drug traffickers of the Salgueiro community. However, the orders were issued by the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice, and not by the Federal Court – as is customary in cases of PM involvement.
The protesters carried signs with words like “Vidas negras importam” (Black lives matter), “Estado genocida” (Genocidal state) and “Parem de nos matar” (Stop killing us). Last year, Rio police killed 1,810 people, a record. The number represented an increase of 18% compared to the previous year.
In a live broadcast of the act, activist Raull Santiago, from Complexo do Alemão, stated that they were there to “try to survive the virus without having to dodge the police shooting, without having to carry the bodies of our brothers and ours sisters.”
In a note, the Secretary of State for the Military Police confirmed that the demonstration was taking place in a peaceful manner and added that “in the dispersion a more exalted group began to throw stones at the Guanabara Palace and the Military Police”. Also according to the note, a protester managed to enter the Palace and damaged a vehicle. “At that time, there was a need to use an instrument with less offensive potential to contain the protesters. In the action, a person was taken to the police station”, he added.
The next protest against the end of the violent operations and against the genocide of black people has already been scheduled for next Sunday, June 7, and it will be national.