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Police and Press | Eye to Eye in Sambodia

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Clueless PR: Former governor Serra celebrated the acquisition of expensive Belgian assault rifles …

“The greatest World Cup of all times.”

The major Brazilian press, including the usual nay-sayers, have tended to observe a lukewarm ceasefire over the attribution of this assessment of the matches that will determine the semifinals and the championship round starting today.

Hardly visible at all in the foreign press are the factors that transcend the sporting event — the electoral politics and the menace to peace and tranquility represented by the state military police, especially in São Paulo.

Source: Rede Brasil Atual

Displayed prominently on the front page of the Folha de S.Paulo is a graphic indicating the intended votes for the federal president, in which Dilma Rousseff (PT) appears with 38%, Aécio Neves (PSDB) with 20% and Eduardo Campos (PSB) with 9%.

Beside this graphic, three brief articles add that 76% of the subjects interviewed did not approve of the curses hurled at the president during the opening ceremony of the Cup, while 60% said the organization of the event was a reason for pride and 65% that protests during the event were a motive for shame.

Source: Vi O Mundo | Carta Capital

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More alarming than public reaction to the Cup, which has bombarded TV viewers with a Disneyfied Potemkin village and promises of reform — my jaw dropped the first time I saw a TV spot in which FIFA reassured the viewer that match-fixing is not (no longer) tolerated — is the question of public safety and the conduct of a police force with a long, proud history of truculence and impunity.

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Journalists who have set out to monitor and measure police actions have been subject to nontrivial acts of arbitrary violence. The poster child for this issue, as I see it, was the Folha photographer who took a rubber bullet direct to the right-hand eye-socket and reportedly risked loss of the eye. Look up “rubber bullet” in the pedia of your choice:

 The intended use [of rubber bullets] is to fire at the ground so that the round bounces up and hits the target on the legs causing pain but not injury.

I bet I could rapidly put together a pretty impressive photo essay from Google Images of grouped SP military police firing from the shoulder at eye level. It seems to happen all the time, but the discrepancy with generally accepted tactics is never reported on.

I will never forget the poor bastard with a newspaper kiosk on the Avenue Paulista who took a round square in the ribs while simply trying to close up shop during a labor march gone wrong. Live on TV Globo, two or three years ago, during one of the first appearances of what would become the native Black Bloc element.

His lieutenant smacked the trooper who launched the missile on the back of the head and bawled him out, pointing at the cameras.  You could partially read his lips. It reminded you of Sgt. Carter chewing out Gomer Pyle, except it was not really that funny.

As to the photographer, I have seen no follow-up to the story, which appeared during the public transit protests last year, then faded to black. The Folha did report in January 2013 about a staff photographer who lost his eye to a rubber bullet:

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And now, this.

Item: Carta Capital | Vi O Mundo

Arrested this Tuesday after demanding to see the ID of a military police trooper, attorney Daniel Biral says he was assaulted and threatened by military police.

“A policeman grabbed me by the neck and applied a chokehold. Another grabbed me by the leg. In the middle of a stairway on the way to the squad car, the one holding my head let go. I started screaming “Media! Media!” Later, at the precinct, the two men opened up the rear door and said, “There’s no media here. Now you are going to die.” 

Arrested on July 1 in downtown S. Paulo, Daniel Biral had a similar story to tell about many other arrests during demonstrations throughout the city. As a member of Advogados Ativistas — Activist Attornies — Biral works in the defense of these demonstrators. On this occasion, it was he who suffered what he normally works to avoid.

Biral was arrested during a debate in Roosevelt Square in the downtown area. According to organizers, the site was chosen to host “a broad-spectrum plenary session to organize the opposition to political prisoners.” The movement was a response to the arrest of two anti-Cup demonstrators last week.

Some militants used cameras to record the actions of police who surrounded the plaza. Observadores Legais — «Legal Observers», as they call themselves — are a group that seeks to register how the State government is dealing with demonstrations.

Accompanying one of the observers, Biral asked to see the ID of a police officer. “You are a public employee and it is your duty to identify yourself,” the lawyer said when the trooper refused. He then began yelling repeatedly, “Take your hands off me,” before being taken behind the wall of riot shields wielded by the Shock Troop.

Biral says he was assaulted further during the trip to the precinct. “The guys beat me, I took several punches. Three of these were  more serious because they struck me in the side of my head, and then I blacked out. When I woke up, I was outside the squad car, lying in front of the precinct. It was then they began dragging me inside. ”

Even after identifying himself as an attorney engaged in legal work, Biral was taken to two different precincts that night. During the two and a half hours of his detention, he says he never learned the reason for his arrest. “The captain was saying that lawyers don’t take pictures, that this was not a legitimate exercise of the legal profession. I said that I would only speak in the company of a lawyer [representing me], together with a member of the bar association, because this was an illegal arrest,” Biral recalls.

Along with Biral, attorney Silvia Daskal and at least six demonstrators were arrested that night. The attorneys are scheduled to meet with the bar association on July 2 to request action in the case.

 

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