The commander of the state military police said Friday that the rubber bullet that struck reporter Giuliana Vallone of the Folha de S. Paulo was not fired at the reporter, but at the ground.
It would be a trivial exercise to assemble a portfolio of photos showing shock troopers aiming their shots at head level — the Racionais show at the Praça da Sé a couple of years ago, for example, and a Labor Day march around the same time.
The young woman was struck in the face during a demonstration against the fare hike in public transportation in downtown São Paulo. The protest took place on Friday, June 13, during which time there were injuries and more than 200 arrests.
As images of the journalist began to circulate, Meira says he ordered a a team to the location where the shot was fired. According to the commander, Giuliana initially said the shot was fired by the elite ROTA squad, which was covering Higienópolis, Jardins and Moema at the time of the incident to prevent robberies of restaurants.
The commander also said that Giuliana was in a parking garage during the incident. “There really was a shock troop bus in that location, on that corner. The police were boarding the bus when some demonstrators began throwing stones. Rubber bullets were fired, not in the direction of the journalist but into the ground. This round ricocheted and the projectile hit the girl in the parking lot.”
These are the tactics you would expect from a well-trained crowd control unit, and the result would primarily be injuries to legs. Protesters posting their injuries to Facebook and the like, however, exhibit injuries to the torso, head and face.
In a note published on her Facebook page, Giuliana said she was in a parking lot on Rua Augusta when she was struck. “There was no violence occurring where I was. I made no gesture of protest against the police. I was wearing a Folha ID badge and I was not even recording the scene. I saw the police aim at me and my colleague Leandro Machado and fire. I took a rubber bullet to the face,” she wrote.
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