Note from BW of Brazil: Let’s be clear about something first. The kid in this article was absolutely wrong, especially considering the fact that he actually had the money to pay for the product. But the question here would be 1) What is considered excessive force on a teenager by three grown men security guards and 2) In the same situation, would they have been so brutal with a white teen?
I know that many will argue that it’s more of an issue of class rather than race, but we’ve already seen numerous examples of well-to-do black Brazilians who continue to deal with discriminatory behavior and pre-judgments clearly based on race, so can we get real about this? Couple this with the fact that Brazil’s middle to upper classes are overwhelmingly white while its poorer classes are majority non-white and come to your own conclusions.
“If he were a white boy would this have happened?”
by Tory Oliveira
The mother of teenager attacked in a Pão de Açucar store says son was wrong, but assigns violence to racism
The micro-entrepreneur Luciana Cruz exposed the case in social networks and registered a B.O. at the police station
“Será que se ele fosse um menino branco teria acontecido isso?” (If he were a white boy, would this have happened?) How long will vidas negras (black lives) be pre-judged?”, asked the micro-entrepreneur Luciana Cruz via a Facebook posting. Cruz’s 16-year-old son was beaten with punches, kicks and gunshots (airsoft) by three outsourced security guards at a unit of the Pão de Açúcar supermarket in Jabaquara, in São Paulo’s south zone.
The teenager, who is black, had consumed chocolate and snacks without paying. To date, the post has been shared 9,800 times.
Luciana says that when she got home, she saw the face of her injured son and questioned what had happened. At first, with embarrassment, the boy said that he had been involved in a fight in Carnival bloco. “Because he’s very calm, I kept insisting.” That’s when the teen’s twin brother told her what happened.
On the telephone, Luciana reported to CartaCapital that her son went to the establishment, which is close to her house and frequented by the family for years, around 11:00 pm on Sunday. Inside the supermarket, the boy consumed two chocolates and a tried to leave the premises without paying but was approached at the exit of the store by three security guards.
“He really made that mistake, but nothing justifies the violence,” she says. “But at the same time he said that he knew what he had done, that it was wrong and that he would pay for the products. But at the same moment they wanted to take him to a room.”
Fearing an aggression behind closed doors, the teenager refused to go and threatened to scream at the approach of the security trio.
“One of them grabbed him by the throat, turned his arm back, punched in him the nose, threw him to the ground, kicked his head, his legs, everything, a third came close, and shot at him with an airsoft gun. He screamed, called for help and the security guards told him that he would get even more. This happened for 10 minutes, in front of all the boxes, of the customers. He asked for help but said that the only person who approached, an older man with gray hair, greeted the security guards and watched,” says Luciana, who was not at home at the time of the attack.
After the aggression, the boy was forced to pack some cardboard boxes that fell during the confusion. Later, he went to the cashier and paid R$ 9.81, in reference to the products he consumed: two chocolates and a bag of Doritos.
“And at all times, during the aggression, he was called a malandro (trickster), a boy from the quebrada (poor community), a favelado (favela/slum dweller). They said that he went there to eat for free, because of his color, right?” said the mother, who considers it racism. Finding out what had happened, she immediately went to the unit and asked for clarification. After hearing an apology from the management, she went to the 26th Police District of Sacomã and registered an Occurrence Bulletin.
“I know very well what it is to walk with two black children into a pharmacy or in a supermarket. From the time we were small, when we would go shopping or they were running in the market, security people were already taking them, thinking they were street children. When I take them to the doctor they think that I am a shelter worker, why do they think that black boys are always street children or adopted?”, criticizes Luciana, who intends to go to court against the supermarket.
According to the Atlas of Violence 2017, prepared by Ipea and the Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública (Brazilian Forum of Public Security), 71 out of 100 people murdered in Brazil are black. The final Senate CPI report on the Murder of Young People, released in 2016, revealed the risk factor for being black and young in Brazil: every 23 minutes, a black person aged 15-29 is murdered.
In a statement, the press office of Grupo Pão de Açúcar commented on the case, but did not clarify which outsourced security company it was:
The network informs that it does not tolerate acts of violence and that it vehemently rejects any such behavior in its stores. The reported conduct is not in accordance with the procedure required by the company, performed by contracted outsourced security personnel. As soon as it became aware of the case, the network initiated an internal investigation process, notifying the company to provide all clarifications and immediately removing those involved, until the case is clarified with the competent bodies. In addition, it proceeded with the reinforcement of internal processes of conduct.
Source: Carta Capital