Clashes erupt in Brazil as police evict squatters from high-rise

September 17, 2014

Vincent Bevins – The Los Angeles Times, 09/16/2014

Clashes between police and squatters resisting eviction paralyzed Sao Paulo on Tuesday morning, as streets were emptied and the center of South America’s largest city was filled with tear gas and smoke from at least one torched city bus.

Large-scale demonstrations and street conflicts have taken place periodically across Brazil since June 2013, but had largely subsided since the beginning of the World Cup soccer tournament this June.

Chaos returned on Tuesday, however, after the forced eviction of members of the FLM, or Front to Fight for Housing, one of the many groups living in abandoned buildings in the city’s center. More than 70 people were arrested in the melee.

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Brazil policemen tried over Carandiru jail massacre

July 30, 2013

BBC, 07/28/2013

The trial has begun in Brazil of 26 policemen accused of killing dozens of inmates during a prison riot in Sao Paulo in 1992.

Witnesses say riot police began shooting at random as they stormed the Carandiru prison.

In half-an-hour, 111 prisoners were killed in what became known as the Carandiru massacre. The policemen currently facing trial are accused of killing 73 prisoners on the second floor of the jail.

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Rio’s cops get tolerance tutorial

June 7, 2013

Mac Margolis – Newsweek, 06/07/2013

Back in 2002, when he was head of Civil Police in Rio de Janeiro, Zaqueu Teixeira caused a minor social earthquake. A group of streetwalkers had been complaining of being roughed up in the streets, and Teixeira decided to investigate. “I brought them into the station to hear their story,” he says. “The entire police command was in shock.” Not only were the victims prostitutes, they were also transvestites—second-class citizens to many Brazilians. Not least to Rio’s cops.

What a difference a decade makes. This week, a group of 50 of Rio’s finest filed into an auditorium in the art deco building that houses the state secretariat of public security for a morning of lectures, debate, and culture shock. This was the latest round of a special training seminar designed to instruct career officers on how to serve and protect a burgeoning Brazilian demographic: the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.

Rio’s top brass was there, as were public safety secretary José Mariano Beltrame and a handful of other Rio grandees. “Everybody behaved. No one offended anyone else or made ugly faces,” says Jane di Castro, a transvestite singer, who performed the national anthem, danced in the aisles and joked with police at the gathering. “Imagine police taking up our cause! I was very pleasantly surprised,” confesses the 67-year-old stage artist, who was born Luiz de Castro.

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Brazil police sentenced over jail killings

April 22, 2013

Al Jazeera/Agencies, 04/21/2013

A court in Brazil has sentenced 23 police officers to 156 years in jail each for their role in the killing of 111 inmates during the country’s deadliest prison uprising in 1992.

Judge Jose Augusto Marzagao on Sunday sentenced the 23 from among 26 officers on trial before the Sao Paulo state tribunal. Three others were acquitted and dozens more will be tried in the coming months.

But under Brazilian law, no one can serve more than 30 years in prison.

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What’s Killing Brazil’s Police?

December 3, 2012

Graham Denyer Willis – The New York Times, 12/01/2012

Brazilian mounted military police officers patrolled the streets in a shantytown in São Paulo, Brazil, last month.

On the evening of Saturday, Nov. 3, Marta Umbelina da Silva, a military police officer here and a single mother of three, was shot in front of her 11-year-old daughter outside their house in Brasilândia, a poor community on the north side of the city. Records show that Ms. da Silva, 44, had never arrested anyone in her 15-year career. Instead, she was one of hundreds of low-level staffers, who mostly handled internal paperwork.

São Paulo, Latin America’s largest city, continues to descend into a violent blood feud between the police and an organized crime group, the First Command of the Capital, known by its Portuguese initials P.C.C. In 2012, 94 police officers have been killed in the city — twice as many as in all of 2011. Between July and September, on-duty police officers killed 119 people in the metropolitan area. In the first three days of November, 31 people were murdered in the city. These statistics conceal a deeper story about Latin American cities, their police forces and the war on drugs.

Ms. da Silva’s only mistake was that she lived in a poor community. And as a police officer, she was not alone. Almost all killings of São Paulo police officers in 2012 happened while they were off duty. The killings have been concentrated in poorer parts of the city, often occurring on officers’ doorsteps. The dead tended to be known in their communities and lived in neighborhoods controlled by organized crime, far from the protection afforded in wealthy parts of the city.

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Brazil: states should act on killings by police

November 30, 2012

Human Rights Watch, 11/29/2012

A resolution by Brazil’s Human Rights Defense Council outlines crucial steps needed to reduce unlawful killings by police, Human Rights Watch said today. The resolution calls on law enforcement officials at the state level to ensure that all killings by their police forces are properly investigated.

The council, led by Human Rights Minister Maria do Rosário, issued the resolution on November 28, 2012, following a public consultation with government officials, public security experts, and civil society representatives.

“Police officers in many parts of Brazil face real difficulties and dangers when confronting violent crime, and many of them have lost their lives in the line of duty,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Unfortunately, their legitimate efforts to enforce the law have often been undermined by other officers who themselves engage in unlawful violence, executing people and falsely claiming their victims died in shootouts.”

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Brazil gang’s slaughter of police sparks fightback

November 19, 2012

Shasta Darlington – CNN, 11/19/2012

Marta Umbelina pulled up in front of her house with her 11-year-old daughter. When she stepped out of the car, she was shot 10 times in the back.

Umbelina was an office worker at Sao Paulo’s Military Police Northern Command — and she is one of nearly 100 cops murdered in Sao Paulo this year, roughly 50 percent higher than 2011.

Most were ambushed while off duty, part of a deadly battle between police and Brazil’s biggest criminal gang, the First Command of the Capital or PCC by its Portuguese acronym.

“Marta was my friend, my colleague, she knew everything about me,” said Simone Mello, a police officer who worked with Marta at a desk job.

“Why her? Why Marta? We’re just very sad,” she said.

In a bid to rein in the PCC, Sao Paulo launched Operation Saturation at the end of October.

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