by Laura Schenkel, Thiago Tieze of Hora Zero and Sul 21 newsroom
A crime left friends and family of Henrique Fernandes de Mello, 26, in shock this weekend. He was stabbed in the abdomen at a bus stop returning from a party with his girlfriend at 3am Saturday morning, in General Daltro Filho Square in downtown Porto Alegre, which is the capital city of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The attacks were motivated by racism.
The young man was hospitalized in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Pronto Socorro Hospital, where he was taken after being rescued by the Serviço de Atendimento Móvel de Urgência (SAMU or Mobile Service Emergency Care).
“We are very shaken. This was a shock to all of us,” said a member of the family who declined to be identified. The police chief Paulo César Jardim, of the 1st precinct Police Station, which is investigating the case, said that besides the motivation, at least one suspect has already been identified:
“It was a group of four or five neo-Nazis, who advocate racial segregation and social oxygenation, ie, “cleaning” humanity of blacks, Jews and homosexuals. The group attacked the black guy because this is part of the cleaning process of race that they preach.”
Jardim declined to give the full name of the suspect in order not to hinder the investigation, but said that it is a 23 year old, who lives in the same neighborhood as the victim, Jardim Itu, in the east zone of the capital, and that knew Mello.
“He (the suspect) admitted that (the victim) was an acquaintance of his with whom he’d had a falling out, that they had taken an oath (of death) and were Skinheads in the past,” said the police chief. The assailant also confirmed that he was a Neo-Nazi sympathizer but denied participating in a group that defended intolerance of any nature.
After admitting the crime, the suspect was released. He will be indicted for attempted murder and, if the motives of the crime are proven, for racial segregation. The chief said that he would request the detention of the suspect.
The 1st Precinct Police, responsible for fighting the neo-Nazi movement in southern Brazil, will give priority to investigations of the case and now work to identify other members of the group that attacked the young man. According to the delegate, there is no information if the victim of the assault had received threats.
“We still have many testimonials to hear,” said Jardim.
According to Jardim, for the past 10 years, more than 45 people were indicted for their involvement in anti-Semitic or racist movements, and most of these indictments were also part of a conspiracy and attempted murder, as was the case this weekend.
Note from BW of Brazil: We await the results of the investigation of this incident. In the 20th century, Brazil’s elites managed to promote the image of the country as a “racial democracy” even with the evidence of widespread racism throughout the country. The country was also once home to the largest branch of the Nazi party outside of Germany in the first half of the 20th century.
Neo-Nazi and Skinhead attacks continue to make news in Brazil as we reported in one previous report from May of 2012 and another from August of 2012, both concerning reactions to the implementation of affirmative action policies in federal universities.
While this case appears to be another racist attack, we must also mention that there are various factions of Skinhead and Neo-Nazi groups in Brazil. As strange as it may seem, there are actually Skinhead groups that proclaim to be non-racist and actually accept black members into their ranks. There are others of the Neo-Nazi and Skinhead variety that are clearly racist and pledge allegiance to the anti-black, anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual sentiments of other branches of these groups in other parts of the world.