John L Warfield Center

Black Brazilians Unfairly Affected by Police Violence

Sun, October 17, 2010

Black Brazilians unfairly affected by police violence

By Allison Harris, Daily Texan Staff
Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010

Police violence in Rio de Janeiro slums could produce more domestic violence in the future, anthropology graduate student Luciane Rocha said.

Rocha presented research showing that violence disproportionately affects blacks in the Brazilian city. Eighty percent of the city’s murder victims in 2007 were black people, most of whom were young, poor men, she said.

The Brazil Center of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies sponsored the lecture “Narratives of Black Women on Violence in Rio de Janeiro,” which featured the stories of six black women from
the city.

From January 2009 to February 2010, Rocha said the police registered 1,185 cases in which they killed people for resisting arrest. The police in Rio de Janeiro often shoot criminal suspects before conducting any investigation, she said.

“They kill. Then the mothers or the parents say, ‘No, they were not drug dealers, not bandits,’ but it is already gone,” Rocha said.
Rocha also said police routinely accept bribes from drug traffickers.

Orchid, an assumed name for one of the women Rocha interviewed, said residents of Brazilian slums view the police as
basically corrupt.

“The police kill in the name of what, why, for whom?” the woman told Rocha. “The drug trafficking will not end because it’s where the money comes from,
the police.”

Marilene, another woman Rocha interviewed, lost her daughter Rosana when she was kidnapped by six hooded men, who she identified as police officers. Nobody was ever arrested for the crime, and Rosana was never found.

Rocha’s speech was part of the center’s Brazil Speaker Series. The center decided on the theme of race this year to highlight the work of visiting professor Maria Aparecida da Silva Bento, who specializes in gender and racial equality in the workforce, said Julie Nordskog, director of the Brazil Center for the Latin American
studies program.

Nordskog said Rocha’s lecture introduced urban violence in Rio de Janeiro, a heavily covered issue in the media, in a new way by using personal accounts.
“The first-hand stories Luciane collected and will be sharing bring a human element to the factual reporting,” Nordskog said.

Ethnomusicology graduate student Cory Lafevers said the talk related to his research connecting music to Brazilian social movements. He said the use of personal interviews was effective.

“Providing voices as such really does reinforce the impacts that the violence can have,” he said.

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