Homicide, truculence and illegality mark army operation at Maré

Action expend more than 14 hours, left one dead, dozens injured and thousands of outraged citizens

On 08/21/2018 by Redes da Maré

The early hours of 20 august, already signaled to the 140 thousand inhabitants of the favelas of Maré that this would be a very difficult day. Around 1am, the Armed Forces surrounded the community. Fireworks were fired. Frightened, residents on a party just panicked. In the rush, some people were injured. This was only a harbinger of what was to come: an action marked by homicide, truculence and illegality, which expend more than 14 hours uninterruptedly, causing panic, outrage, terror and material loss to a population weary of seeing their fundamental rights disrespected.

According to reports from residents, the operation effectively began around 5am: supported by the belt formed by Armed Forces around Maré, 22nd Battalion, Shock Battalion and Battalion Special Operations (Bope) had entered the favelas Nova Holanda, Parque Maré, Rubens Vaz and Parque União. It is not known, until now, how many policemen were deployed to these communities. It is a consensus, however, that there weren’t few soldiers who circulated on the streets of the favelas, on foot or in an armored car (Caveirão), approaching the residents with truculence.

Maré de Direitos’s (local organization) staff on duty received several complaints of rights violations during the day, including the breaking-in of a car and the invasion of two houses, one in the Maré Park; and another in Nova Holanda. In both houses, police had no search warrant and left traces of destruction, damaging furniture and appliances. In Nova Holanda they got to the point of hurling the dog from the house, a poodle, on the third floor. The animal survived.

The worst, however, was yet to come. Around 6pm, the Maré de Direitos organization was called to report the torture of four young people at the Maré Campus, where several schools in the region are staying. Even in the midst of the tense atmosphere, the team from Redes da Maré left for the site. There, he found a group of 50 people, mostly women and children, who argued with a police officer. They were families and friends of the four young men who were trapped by police in an alley where they could not be seen. The team immediately began to mediate the conflict by talking to the officer on guard, barring people from entering the alley. “I started talking to the police officer. And I was impressed. He was so nervous that he could not articulate the words. At one point, he said: ‘We’ve been here since 4:00 am, standing, not eating, not going to the bathroom, and these people come here to make a mess. How do you want me to calm down? ‘”

The atmosphere remained tense, but under control. The team positioned itself between the policeman and the group of residents, making a human minicordion to keep the tempers from getting hotter and seeking a solution. While talking to the police, a body, wrapped in a gray blanket, was brought by about 10 policemen. No one had doubts: one of the young people had died and his body was being taken to the Caveirão. The families present despaired, the cries began. A young woman pierced the human cord: she had to know the identity of the dead man. It was the fuse. A policeman pointed his rifle at the group and a second shot at random. The group dispersed.

The other trapped youths left the alley alive. ’De Belém’, as the young man who was killed was known, he had no relatives in the community, where he lived for a little over a year. Little is known about him, including his death. What is known, however, causes outrage: his body was removed from the scene of his murder before the forensic analyses could be done and his death was not recorded in the Homicide Office.

The Maré de Direitos will come with actions on justice against the arbitrariness and brutalities, such as house invasions, homicides and lethal weapons and armored car used indiscriminately against the population.

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