Race and Equality condemns the Jacarezinho Massacre

Brasil, May 07 2021 – The International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) condemns and rejects the excessive use of police force that resulted in the massacre of 25 people in the favela of Jacarezinho, in Rio de Janeiro, on May 6, 2021. Houses were raided, residents were assaulted, and airstrikes terrorized the entire community. This police operation marks the largest death toll that Rio de Janeiro has experienced. For all the human rights violated, we urge for the accountability of Governor Claudio Castro, along with the military police involved in the operation.

The city is tied to several massacres where its citizens are not protected. Historic massacres include: 1993, Vigário Geral (21 dead) and Candelária (8 dead); 2017, Alemão (19 dead) and, 2021 Jacarezinho (25 dead). Citizens were shot at a train and subway station; there is no security policy that can be explained by the crossfire and close-range shooting. There is no anti- drug policy that justifies the lethality of those who live in vulnerable situations. According to the Security Observatory Network (Rede Observatório de Segurança), in the first quarter of 2021 alone, there were 257 police operations, with 69 deaths in Rio de Janeiro. This tragic number of deaths was even after the trial of “ADPF Favelas.” Within this trial, the Supreme Court (STF) held a public hearing to discuss the ADPF, Allegation of Violation of a Fundamental Precept (Arguição de Descumprimento de Preceito Fundamental) Case No. 635, known as “ADPF Favelas.” The aim of the debate was to collect information that supports a plan to reduce police lethality in the state of Rio, including banning police operations during the pandemic.[1]

Race and Equality calls on the international community to demand justice in the face of the violence of a state whose death policy has executed youth and children living in the community. We emphasize to international human rights organizations that in Brazil, people whom the state considers as “suspects,” are those historically subjected to violence because of their race and class. Historical and structural racism play a role in the current security policy, with the black population suffering the most from police violence and representing the majority of the country’s prison population. We also remember that Governor Claudio Castro, in addition to failing to comply with the decision of the Supreme Court, caused the death of children. In Rio de Janeiro alone, from January to June last year, 99 children and adolescents were killed by police officers, 27% in the capital and 73% in other municipalities.

Read: The world needs to see what is happening in Brazil

We offer our solidarity to the entire community of Jacarezinho and to the families of the victims in the face of barbarism. A state that accounts for 45,000 deaths by COVID-19 while conducting a truculent police operation is the same as saying that it does not value the lives of its citizens. What lives really matter in the face of a policy of death? We remind you that to combat organized crime, we need strategy, intelligence, monitoring and coordinated actions. Violence cannot be combated with more violence! Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of Race and Equality, expresses his outrage and declares that the police action that took place today has several names: barbarism, massacre, slaughter– all directed to black, poor and favela bodies. We demand answers from the Public Ministry and the Justice Department about this operation where, once again, we are witnessing black youth genocide in Brazil!

[1] “Why the Supreme Court Suspends Police Operations in Favelas of Rio de Janeiro,” Conectas Human Rights (2020). Available here: https://www.conectas.org/en/news/understand-what-led-the-supreme-court-to-suspend-police-operations-in-rio-de-janeiros-favelas

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