Echoes of George Floyd in Brazil: Man Kneeled On, Killed by Security Guard

João Alberto Silveira Freitas, a 40-year-old Black man, was beat to death by security guards outside a Carrefour supermarket in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on November 19, 2020. Moments of the beating and killing, which happened a day before Brazil’s Black Awareness Day (Black Consciousness Day), were captured on video and went viral, prompting protests at Carrefour markets across the country.

Many are comparing the killing of Freitas to that of George Floyd in that Freitas was unarmed and kneeled-on until he died. Numerous incidents of racism, violence, and death from security guards at Carrefour markets have occurred in recent years in Brazil.

Brazilian artist and activist MC EmiciThug reported from a demonstration at the Carrefour in Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil:

In response to the cowardly asphyxiation murder of João Alberto Silveira Freitas, 40, the Capixaba Black Movement, along with social leaders and supporters occupied the hypermarket unit located in Shopping Vila Velha, in Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil.

Shouting slogans like “stop killing us“, “it’s not over, it has to end, I want the end of the Military Police“, among others, the protesters decreed a boycott of the hypermarket chain and its partners.

In the course of the protest, there was an uproar when flares were lit. Quickly the police – protecting private property – came and put the flare out.

As we well know, Black people, art, and struggle go hand-in-hand, so Lyra recited a poetry that was very well accepted by the public.

Poet Carlos Abelhão, in partnership with MC EmiciThug and the poet Vitor Miguel, staged a piece on the aggression that caused the death of João Alberto.

During the demonstration, Professor Gustavo Ford criticized Carrefour, the multinational company, its modern slavery practices, and the low salaries of its employees.

Later, Pandora da Luz reinforced the people’s need to fight against the injustices practiced by the elite and the State.

Before the end of the action, there was still time for Gessé to light the protest with his saxophone. In the same peaceful way as it started at 1:30 p.m., at 4:00 p.m. the act came to an end, reinforcing that the Black Movement in Espírito Santo is still alive.

MC EmiciThug

Symbolizing Black bodies lost to State violence in Brazil, a die-in occurred outside of the Carrefour in Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil. Carrefour stores across the country faced different actions.

Brazilians participate in a die-in against police violence
Die-in outside of the Carrefour in Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil

In some cities, Carrefour windows were smashed and in at least one instance, a fire was started in one of the stores.

Mídia NINJA, an independent media organization in Brazil, put together a video snippet of some of the action on November 20:

Many attended a funeral for Freitas on November 21.

Both of the guards that killed Freitas were detained and according to authorities they may be criminally prosecuted.

Carrefour said they were firing the on-duty store manager in Porto Alegre and ending the contract with their current security company in Brazil. The supermarket’s CEO, Alexandre Bompard, tweeted that the video images were ”unbearable” and the Carrefour twitter released a five-tweet statement with commitments to fight against racism and violence.

As Brazil wrestles with rampant anti-Blackness in similar ways to the U.S., the police in Brazil kill 4,000 more people on average per year than police in the U.S. Statistics show nearly 80% of Brazilian victims of police violence are Black, while Brazil’s Black population is around 50%.

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