RECIFE, Brazil – The outrage over the brutal murder of a black customer at the hands of two security guards from a supermarket sustained this Saturday, for the second day in a row, the mobilizations in Brazil of anti-racist groups and once again aroused public opinion in the country.
After protests on Friday in several cities, mainly in Sao Paulo (southeast) and Porto Alegre (south), where the death of the welder Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, 40, took place on Thursday night, Recife, in the northeast, was this Saturday one of the epicenters of the mobilizations against racism.
Activists from anti-racist groups and representatives of various social movements gathered outside the supermarket of the French network Carrefour in the exclusive Boa Viagem neighborhood of Recife, capital of the state of Pernambuco.
The protesters painted the facade of the premises and of some police patrols with messages alluding to the death of Silveira Freitas, known as Beto, after trying to enter the establishment, which led to the police intervention with tear gas and the arrest of an activist .
Councilor Vinicius Castello, of the city of Olinda and member of the Commission of Racial Values of the Order of Lawyers of Brazil (OAB) in Pernambuco, indicated that the mobilizations throughout the country are “to be able to claim that our lives matter” .
“We were here peacefully and the police reached the end of the protest. They ended up arresting an activist, who is a mother. But we are together, increasingly articulated,” Castello pointed out.
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The lawyer and councilor, also an activist of the gay movement in Brazil, reiterated that as long as this type of “assassination” continues, the population will continue “to resist within a genocidal policy, within a genocidal state.”
“Most of the people are black and black politicians have to come to power to claim that space and to be vigilant so that this does not happen again,” he said.
The welder’s death evoked others associated with racism, such as that of the American George Floyd at the hands of two white policemen in May and that went around the world.
After the investigation, it was found that the batch of imported products had left the port of Santos in Brazil.
In Brazil, he recalled two events that occurred in Rio de Janeiro recently: that of Joao Pedro, a 14-year-old teenager killed in May during a police intervention, and that of the musician Evaldo Santos, in an Army operation in 2019.
The Porto Alegre authorities detained the two security guards who beat the client to death, who allegedly had an argument with a cashier for opening a beer and was taken to the gate, where the brutal assault apparently occurred after he try to punch them.
The police chief Roberta Bertoldo, responsible for the investigations, declared that the attack was not an act of racism and that those responsible must answer to the Justice for the murder charge.
One of the guards involved was a militarized police officer from the administrative side, according to police sources, so he allegedly could not work for private security companies.
In response, Carrefour Brasil described November 20, the day of the black client’s death that coincided with National Black Awareness Day, an institutionalized date to combat racism, as “the saddest in the history” of the French network in the country.
“Words will not express our anguish with brutality”, highlighted the network, who reiterated the “support” for the family of the welder, buried this Saturday in a Porto Alegre cemetery, and announced that this Saturday’s collection will be destined to social programs to combat racism.
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Without citing the death of Silveira Freitas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro referred indirectly to the protests this Saturday during his virtual speech at the G20 Leaders’ Summit, which brings together the 20 most powerful world economies.
In what he judged as “an attempt to import tensions unrelated to the history” of the country, the far-right leader quoted: “Brazil has a diverse culture, unique among nations. We are a mixed people: whites, blacks and Indians built the body and the spirit of a rich and wonderful people. “
“In a single Brazilian family we can contemplate a greater diversity than in entire countries and it was the essence of this people that won the sympathy of the world,” added Bolsonaro, claiming that acts “always masked as a struggle for equality or social justice, but all in search of power “.
For the president, of Italian origins, “there is no better skin color than another. What exists are human beings: good and bad.”
Despite being the majority in the country (56%), the Afro-descendant population in Brazil is the hardest hit by unemployment, poverty and police violence, according to the latest official data.