July 30, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
November 15, 2012
Bradley Brooks – Associated Press/The Republic, 11/15/2012
A tenuous six-year truce between police and gang members is over in Sao Paulo — that much seems clear to shopkeeper Vanuza Alves da Silva, who has seen a surge in killings in her slum neighborhood.
Seven people were killed in a single night last week in Silva’s Vila Brasilandia shantytown, including a police officer. Days later, gunmen shot up a bar, killing a 13-year-old boy and three adults.
Blood isn’t flowing just in her slum. Sao Paulo, which is to host the World Cup opening match in 2014, has seen nearly 150 homicides over the past two weeks and 94 police executed this year.
November 7, 2012
Brian Winter – Reuters, 11/07/2012
A policeman searches a motorcyclist at a checkpoint in Sao Paulo October 8, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Paulo Whitaker/Files
The murder of a female police officer in front of her daughter in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city and financial capital, has increased pressure on President Dilma Rousseff and local authorities to halt a drug-related crime wave in which dozens of police have died.
Marta Umbelina da Silva, 44, was opening the garage in her home Saturday night when two assailants shot her ten times in the back, throat and abdomen, police said. Her 11-year-old daughter screamed for help and Silva, a mother of three, was taken to a nearby hospital, but she could not be revived.
More than half of the 90 police murders this year in greater Sao Paulo have occurred in similar execution-style fashion.
May 16, 2011
Fabiola Ortiz – AlJazeera, 05/15/2011
Jane de Meneses Coelho, whose son Julio Cesar died in a police operation, cries as Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty watches during a meeting for victims of police violence at Cidade Alta slim in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters
Despite “considerable progress” made in reducing poverty, “stark inequalities” remain in Brazil, as well as high levels of police and gang violence in poor urban neighbourhoods, Amnesty International warns in its annual human rights report, released as it reaches its 50th anniversary.
The “Annual Report 2011: The state of the world’s human rights” documents specific restrictions on free speech in at least 89 countries, cases of torture and other ill-treatment in almost 100 countries, and unfair trials in at least 54 countries.
In the chapter on Brazil, the London-based global rights watchdog says the country’s “favelas” or shanty towns continue to face “a range of human rights abuses, including forced eviction and lack of access to basic services.”