Note from BW of Brazil: It’s already been one week last night since five young black males were gunned down in a hail of gunfire from Rio’s lethal Military Police. According to police reports, 111 shots were fired with 20 or so hitting the car and killing all five passengers. A gruesome photo of the five dead young men after their shooting in the car circulated around the internet in days following the cold-blooded murders.
In some ways, like the old saying goes, it appears that time flies, but in the case of the families of Rio’s latest bloodbath, I’m sure that the week must have gone by in slow motion as they tried to come to terms with these unnecessary murders. Really, 111 shots? Why? And why is this so common in so many Brazilian cities, but particularly Rio? People don’t like to speak of ‘conspiracy theories’ but when a certain age group within a certain race are continuously victims of state-sponsored assassinations and the situation never seems to change, what would you call it? Since the slavery era, Brazil has ALWAYS treated its black population in this manner!
The neighborhood featured in today’s story has been featured or mentioned on this blog previously due to its famous charme dances in which black cariocas (Rio natives) get together to dance and enjoy themselves with old school R&B from the United States. But there was no charm about this latest atrocity and residents of the neighborhood recently came together to express their grief, anger and impatience with an apparent ongoing policy of genocide on the part of Rio’s government. Below are the story and amazing photos courtesy of the Vice website and photographer Matias Maxx.
Madureira calls for the end of the extermination of black youth
After the assassination of five more young black males, Madureira community calls for the end of the extermination of black youth; hundreds take to the streets in protest
Courtesy of Vice; photos by Matias Maxx
On the evening of Saturday, November 28th, five young black men between the ages of 16 and 25, was gunned down in a car by Rio Military Police in Costa Barros PM: there were 111 shots and there were no survivors. As usual, the police version contradicts itself, but what we do know is that the young people were workers, were unarmed and posed no threat to the police.
To make the story even crueler, they were returning from Parque Madureira (park), where they celebrated the first paycheck of one of them. The tragedy angered many locals, especially blacks and peripheral residents; one of them, the student Bruno Rico, decided to schedule an act for Thursday, December 3rd.
Even aware that other demonstrations were being organized, Bruno saw the urgency to do something in Madureira. In the event page, he makes it clear that he is not against the acts in the center – not even those “with everybody dressed in white in Copacabana” – but stressed that it was necessary to do something in Parque Madureira, which was the last place of leisure of the young people.
“It was all through the internet, I just created the event, and, through it, other people were coming to help: We met in Cinelândia, separated the roles and took them. It’s a totally non-partisan act, unrelated to social movements, a totally independent thing para o povo e pelo povo (for the people and by the people). We got in touch with family members, but they are saturated, going days without sleep, so they didn’t come. But they are aware and represented by the act.”
Madureira is certainly the most “Black Power” neighborhood of the city, boasting two traditional samba schools, Portela and Império Serrano, besides the traditional baile charme (dance) under the Negrão de Lima viaduct where the protest was concentrated. It is not uncommon to see turbans and dreads on the head of the neighborhood residents, who, on this sad rainy afternoon, were more evident. A car stereo amplified the voice of many blacks who spoke from 5pm until about 7pm, when the act ended.
One of speakers was the lawyer Jamile Sepol, of the organization “Justiça Negra Luis Gama” (Luis Gama Black Justice), which operates in the intellectual and financial empowerment of young black men. “We give political training courses with a racial perspective, preparatory course and English course so that this system doesn’t say that black youth are not prepared to enter the labor market and doesn’t have knowledge of their cause, their history and their origin; so that in times like this, [this young black can] speak with foundation about our origin, our cause, and say no to assassination, genocide of these young blacks and others that are to come.”
Jamile and other lawyers talked to the Municipal Guard who accompanied the act smoothly. It was not the first time a manifestation repudiating a police action in the neighborhood happened: a year ago, there was a demonstration in repudiation of the case of Claudia Ferreira, shot by the Military Police, while still alive she was thrown into the trunk and dragged by a police car arriving dead at the hospital.
Jamile vents: “The issue of public security in Rio de Janeiro is a matter of system, it is a matter of social policy. We speak directly of the Military Police because it is at the tip of the matter. But it is a structure, it’s not enough to put police in the communities – you have to put medical assistance, education and everything more [of] what is needed. So, the question of having a truculent policing, be it here, in the north zone, or anywhere else, this is a matter of lack of teaching, lack of originality and lack of a clear investment in the training of these police officers.”
To the sound of “Rap do Silva”, the march took the avenue and proceeded through the streets of the neighborhood. A sound truck played funk and rap while a wireless microphone that amplified blacks who gave speeches, slogans and songs. There was a very exciting moment in which “Negro Drama”, of the Racionais MCs was played, and everyone sang along. There was a time when an older woman yelled out “A Carne” (1), in the version by Elza Soares. It was chilling.
Only that nothing brought more shivers than the speech by Ana Paula Oliveira, mother of Jonathan, killed by UPP police in Manguinhos last year. He was 19 years old. “Unfortunately, it’s not like those cowardly liars in power say….that they are isolated cases They are not isolated cases. Our grief speaks for itself.
We lost our children and we have to live in the struggle to be able to find justice but we will not remain silent, we are the voice of our children while we live. My son was totally defenseless. I want those police who killed my son behind bars, but it’s no good just putting these cops behind bars. José Mariano Beltrame has to be made responsible for all these deaths. It’s the blood of our children being spilled. Let our youth live, for God’s sake, let our children live – no more bloodshed, no more cowardice! Our rulers are making money from a policy of Public Security, such cowards must be held accountable.”
It was hard to hold the tears this time, tears more of hate and anger than anything else. Thankfully, the sound car was already being rock by the song “Sorriso Negro” (meaning ‘black smile’) in the version of (samba/pagoda group) Fundo de Quintal to relax the crowd; then, the march followed to its end point, in Parque Madureira, where it ended in front of the amphitheater. Still shivering by the discourse of Ana Paula, I talked with Ligia Oliveira, of Amnesty International.
“The experience of the struggle of the mother a child victim of violence is very important to us, we learn a lot from these people. They are much more than mere spectators, they are protagonists of this struggle. The pain of their grief, they end up transforming into struggle, and this is very important for us who militate in this cause, because we can be a future victim of the policy. I hope from the bottom of my heart that the fervor of this moment with the Costa Barros boys expands itself and makes our youth black occupy all the spaces. We are together for these boys and many others who died there as a result of this policy of violent security public policy that we have in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil; so, the act aims to not only make the local guys conscious of the indexes are here – people are dying, young people are dying, the black youth in particular is dying: racism is killing these youth – but also to denounce and show that we will not remain silent in the face of these atrocities.”
At about half past nine, the act was officially closed. The people were dissipating and forming little circles for discussion and capoeira. A charme was playing in one of the kiosks, and it was there that my head cooled. In the beer line, I met an old acquaintance of social movements that I prefer not to identify.
“The act was great, but I’m getting a little tired of this dynamic: a violent episode, an act, and then it falls by the wayside and everything happens again. We’re are talking a lot because this time there were five dead with 111 shots; so the next time, if there were only two and 20 shots, will it be different? I’m hoping that something different happens for real, stopping the city itself, every week!”
- The song’s lyrics say that “A carne mais barata do mercado é a carne negra” (The cheapest meat in the market is the black/dark meat)