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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

Common police violence in Brazil bears similarities to Ferguson

Even here in Brazil, Ferguson has been making the news every day. My Brazilian friends post about it on Facebook, and it remains a topic of daily conversation.

But the reality is that here, events similar to Ferguson are not only happening often, it would be strange if they didn’t happen.

“Racism, rogue cops and rough justice are as familiar here as flip flops and palm trees,” writes Mac Margolis for Bloomberg. His article, titled “Brazil has ‘a Ferguson every day,’” outlines the degree of police brutality and its similarities to events in Ferguson.

The police presence here in São Paulo seems to be omnipresent. Military policemen wander the streets, usually in groups of four or five. Many times they stand around together, chatting and looking bored. It’s oddly comical.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Brazil’s police, that’s where the comedy stops. The Brazilian police are responsible for at least 2,000 deaths every year, according to the Economist.

On one occasion, I watched out a bus window as three policemen with unnecessarily large guns rounded up homeless people and evacuated them from a small area where they sleep every day.

At a soccer game, I watched from a distance as a crowd, worked up from a referee’s call, was beaten back to their seats with police clubs.

According to a Time magazine report from the beginning of November, a militia supposedly linked to the military police killed 10 civilians.

Al Jazeera reported that in the city of Goiânia, policemen are suspected to have illegally killed one in 20 of the homeless population.

Police violence is clearly related to poverty and race in Brazil. Of course, inhabitants of slums, called favelas here in Brazil, are more vulnerable to this sort of police violence. And the favelas are full of people characterized by the government as brown or black.

As is the case in the United States, social media has shaped the way people view these conflicts. Some extreme cases have managed to catch the attention of Brazilians on Twitter and Facebook.

But unfortunately, many Brazilians are hardened to this kind of violence. It is something that is now expected.

This being said, there have still been many large-scale protests against police violence. Unsurprisingly, these often ended in more violence.

The difference might be that while American protests such as Ferguson are televised around the world, Brazilian protests are brushed under the rug and rarely receive much international attention.

It seems regardless of whether you live in a first- or a third-world country, citizens of the U.S. and Brazil can’t yet expect a first-class police force.

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