Renato Freitas, a candidate for state congressman of the state of Paraná was violently assaulted by the Municipal Guard on Monday in the capital city of Curitiba; attack could have been retaliation
By Marques Travae
Renato Freitas is young, black, a criminal lawyer with a master’s degree and also a running for state congress in the state of Paraná for the Workers’ Party.
As the candidate distributed flyers in downtown Curitiba, the state’s capital city, Freitas was approached, surrounded and assaulted by the city’s Municipal Guard who shot the young man twice with rubber bullets, one hitting his hand and the other, his back. As Renato was shot from close range, he obviously sustained injuries but, fortunately, his life is not at risk.
The question is what provoked this attack that seemed to come out of nowhere. It is believed that the attack stems from another incident that took place in 2016 when the Municipal Guard violently took Freitas into custody. The city was pressed to investigate the details of that assault. As Freitas was the victim of the case, last week, he was called to testify on his own behalf, a move he feared could lead to some sort of payback, and here it is in 2018 and his fears came true. In order to see any sort of justice for happened to him in 2016, Freitas needed to testify, or the case would have been thrown out. He did the right thing, testified and then continued his campaign in various cities across the state. It was on his return to Curitiba that the attack happened.
The news of Renato’s assault was quick as he did a live stream on Facebook detailing his ordeal from the hospital. As the case was already looking to be politically charged, the same Municipal Guard added to this speculation when it attempted to impede Renato’s family, friends, lawyer and people from his campaign. After two hours of drama, Renato’s mother, sister and lawyer were finally able to see him.
This would not be the end of the drama.
Upon his release from the hospital, Freitas was taken to a police station where he was charged with disobedient behavior. Freitas was charged with contempt toward police, defamation and resisting arrest. But the police version of the events leading up to the assault and hospitalization are quite different from how Freitas remembered the facts. Go figure.
Addressing the issue, the city of Curitiba claims that the Municipal Guard responded to complaints by residents in the region of Praça do Gaúcho that in the early evening of Sunday, there was commotion in the street being provoked by illegal street racing as well illicit drug use and general disturbing of the peace.
The city’s statement continued:
“The Municipal Guard responded to the call and had to use a non-lethal weapon (rubber bullet) to contain the group and to restore order at the location. Renato Almeida Freitas Junior, who is a candidate for state deputy, was in the group, made an advancement against the six municipal guards and ended up being wounded.”
Freitas disputed this version of the story. Renato didn’t recall any commotion of the sort described by the city that would warrant any sort of police action.
Renato’s lawyer, Maria Fernanda, backs up her client’s contesting of the facts:
“Everyone who was present said that this attack happened out of nowhere, that there was no reason at all. There was no one going up to the police, no confusion that would motivate this approach.”
The lawyer Ramon Bentivenha continued the defense:
“Renato wasn’t even in the square (Praça do Gaúcho) at the time of the supposed rift, at 7:00 pm he was coming back from Prudentópolis.” To get to the bottom of the facts, Renato’s lawyers are demanding that city make images from security cameras in the vicinity available for analysis.
Yet another detail that supports the idea that the assault and charges against Freitas may have been politically motivated is the fact that another black activist was also arrested just a few days before the assault on Freitas. During the September 7th Independence Day March, Edna Dantas, another candidate for state congress, along with two other activists were arrested. During the march, the militants wore t-shirts and screamed “Free Lula” in support of embattled, imprisoned former president Lula da Silva.
Da Silva, forever linked to his PT party, has been imprisoned in Curitiba for more than five months but still battling with the courts to be able to compete in October elections. “Free Lula” has been a battle cry for PT supporters who want to see the return of the two-term president to the Palácio do Planalto, the official headquarters of the Brazilian president in the capital city of Brasília. Although the UN has publicly supported the legal right of da Silva being allowed to run, after five months of legal haggling, da Silva recently passed the baton to his VP running mate, Fernando Haddad, to represent the PT in the election. According to a Vox Populi poll, when associating Haddad directly with Lula, the former São Paulo mayor would be the leader of intended votes, surpassing controversial PSL candidate, Jair Bolsonaro who was recently stabbed in a campaign event in Minas Gerais, and had been the leader up to this point.
The recent attacks and arrest of Freitas and Dantas seem to be clear demonstrations of anti-PT actions and forces that don’t want to see the possible rise of another PT government that ruled Brazil for 14 years from 2002 to 2016 through the two term presidency of da Silva and the term and a half of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, before she was removed from office in a controversial impeachment.
In terms of Renato Freitas, it may seem strange to have two vastly different interpretations of what happened to him in a recent run-in with police, but in today’s political environment, it’s not surprising. And the timing and facts surrounding both cases (Freitas and Dantas) weren’t lost on Dr. Rosinha, the PT’s candidate for governor of the state of Paraná. Rosinha clearly laid out his sentiments on the events in an official statement released shortly after Freitas was hospitalized:
“On this Sunday night, 09, the candidate for deputy for the PT Paraná, Renato Almeida Freitas, was leafletting in downtown Curitiba and was attacked by the Municipal Guard that attacked him with rubber bullets and arrested him. No reason for the arrest or police violence. Likewise, on the 7th, during the civic parade, Edna Dantas, a candidate for state deputy for PT PR, held a demonstration for the release of President Lula, along with other party members and was beaten and detained by the police. In both cases, the only explanation for the persecution is that both are black, from the PT and social movements. What we are seeing is a frightening, rising wave of violence and persecution to those who demonstrate and fight for the oppressed. There were no worries about the buses of President Lula’s Caravan that were targeted, we have come to six months without knowing who killed Marielle and the judiciary also determined that we cannot express our support for Lula. I was following today, as soon as I learned, the progress of Renato’s arbitrary arrest. As I will be requesting from now an investigation on the deviation of police function in both cases. I am on the side of Democracy and therefore struggling against the state of exception in which we live. Stop the persecution! Enough with the violence! – DR ROSINHA, President of the PT in Paraná”
Nationwide elections in Brazil are scheduled for October 7th.