The death of a black man beaten by white security guards in a supermarket sparked protests across Brazil on Friday as the country celebrated Black Awareness Day.
A video of the incident on Thursday night in the southern city of Porto Alegre, recorded on a witness’s mobile phone, was broadcast on social networks and Brazilian media.
When the clip went viral, around 1,000 protesters in Sao Paulo marched to a branch of the French supermarket chain Carrefour and stoned the glass front before storming the premises, destroying and burning goods, according to an AFP photographer on site.
“Carrefour’s hands are dirty with black blood,” read a banner held up by protesters.
Police in Porto Alegre used tear gas and lightning grenades to disperse a protest that had formed outside the supermarket where the death occurred, according to local television.
Protests also broke out in the capital, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, where a crowd rattled a Carrefour supermarket to prevent customers from reaching the checkouts.
“Carrefour can close, it killed our brother, it won’t work!” sang dozens of young people wearing banners and masks with the slogan “Black Lives Matter”.
The video on social media shows 40-year-old welder Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas being hit repeatedly in the face and head by a security guard while someone else is holding him in the supermarket.
A woman stands next to them and films with her cell phone.
The military police in Rio Grande do Sul state said the man threatened a worker in the supermarket who called security.
Silveira Freitas lost consciousness during the attack and died immediately when medics tried to resuscitate him.
A friend of the victim who witnessed the beating told G1 that when security forces beat him, Silveira Freitas “yelled he couldn’t breathe,” a scene reminiscent of the death of George Floyd, a black man who White US police choked under the knee in Minneapolis last May.
This murder sparked massive protests in the United States.
Both supermarket security guards were arrested. One of them was identified as a military police officer who worked part-time in the supermarket.
In a statement, Carrefour’s Brazilian subsidiary regretted the “brutal death” of Silveira Freitas and promised to “take appropriate measures to bring those involved in this criminal case to justice”.
Carrefour said it would cut ties with the security company that employed the guards.
In a series of tweets in Portuguese, Carrefour’s French boss, Alexandre Bompard, expressed his condolences and said the images posted on social media were “unacceptable”.
“Internal measures were immediately implemented by the Carrefour Group Brazil, mainly in relation to contracts with security companies. These measures are insufficient. My values and the values of Carrefour do not allow racism and violence,” he wrote, calling for a full review of employee training. Diversity and intolerance.
The murder sparked outrage on social media and overshadowed Brazilian Consciousness Day, a public holiday in several states.
“From November 20th to the next and every day, the racist structure of this country usually brings us brutality,” said social activist Raull Santiago on Twitter.
“It seems we have no way out … not even on Black Consciousness Day,” said Brazil international Richarlison.
“Indeed, what conscience? You killed a black man, beat him in front of the cameras. You beat him and filmed him. Decency and shame have been lost through violence and hatred,” the Everton player said on Twitter.
In Brazil, the last country in America to abolish slavery in 1888, around 55 percent of the 212 million inhabitants identify as black or mixed race.
Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had not directly commented on the death late Friday, but tweeted that the country’s problems “go beyond racial issues” and that the “great evil” of Brazil remains “moral, social and political corruption”.
“As president, I am color-blind: everyone is the same color. There is not a single color [of skin] better than the others. There are good men and bad men, “added Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao described the murder as “unfortunate”.
Mourao said it was the work of an “unprepared security agent” and denied it was a racist act.
“For me there is no racism in Brazil. They want to import that into Brazil here. It does not exist here,” said Mourao.
The philosopher Djamila Ribeiro, one of the most influential voices in the fight against racism in Brazil, told AFP that “the naturalization and justification of the death of blacks as a result of violence is present in political, legal, business and media discourses”.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)