Bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang!
It’s 11 p.m. and we are watching Rossellini’s Roma, Cittá Aperta. Nearing the end, we are contemplating the death by firing squad of Dom Pietro Pellegrini.
Just down the block, by the entrance to the park, the unmistakeable sounds of gunfire — 7 shots, not the 5 reported by news organizations.
It is the second fatal shooting in our immediate neighborhood in the last year or so.
A psychologist who lived on Rua Beatriz was executed sicário-style, probably at the behest of a jealous husband of one of her patients. There are signs that the hit squad may have been made up of moonlighting PMs — a not uncommon situation. The local PM barracks are less than 100 meters away.
In this latest incident, military police attempt to pull over a young publicist who turns out to have a small amount of marijuana in his possession. After cutting off his escape, they open fire when they mistake a cell phone for a hand gun.
The state judicial police said that the gun shots that killed business owner Ricardo Prudente de Aquino in the Western District on Wednesday night were fired from a short distance and that the police officers did not follow procedure. The military police had already admitted the failings of the corporal and two enlisted men, who were charged on the spot with manslaughter and taken to the Romão Gomes military prison, in the Northern District.
Neighbors polled while sticking their heads out carefully to see what is going on report that the incident is a home invasion robbery gone bad. Eyewitness testimony being what it is, especially in the heat of the moment. Some of our neighbors are wealthy pessoas do bem — police often resort to the dichotomy «do bem» and «do mal» — and are very nervous on this score. Some public streets have even been closed off and private security personnel deployed. Police are said to be in position of privately installed surveillance video of the incident.
Also last evening, in Santos, a car carrying a group of young men failed to stop when approached by police was struck by more than 25 rounds fired by PMs. One young man died.
The immediate response by PM internal affairs could be signs of improved zero-tolerance enforcement of measures against an endemic culture of «resistance followed by death» and impunity for police agents involved in such cases. More typical would be a prolonged cooling-off period followed by light adminstrative punishment, if any punishment at all.
This type of story has mostly been covered as an outgrowth of class discrepancies, as in a recent report by Human Rights Watch, reproduced on the Web site of Foreign Affairs:
Final Justice, the title Human Rights Watch has chosen for its report, is the name of a death squad headed by a former military policeman that operates in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It is also the name given in Brazil to a popular American television show (Equal Justice). In the series a judge is forced to release suspects on technicalities but enforces justice with his own hands.
A recent poll by [sic] Rio policemen found that the series protagonist ranked only behind Charles Bronson as a favorite hero. It is a sad indication of the intransigence of the problem, growing as it does from the grotesque social inequities of Brazilian society and disregard for the underprivileged, that a poll among Rio’s middle-class population is unlikely to show different results.
The 39-year-old man who died on our block — a would-be professional chef, we are told — clearly does not fit this profile of the favela-dwelling intruder. He drove a new, mid-market car and was dressed and groomed like an Av.Paulista yuppie.
Title: Public acquiescence [in] police brutality and extrajudicial killings in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Autor: Danya J. Peters