By Lindsay Spratt, Sub Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – Evandro João da Silva, coordinator of Afroreggae, one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest non-profit organizations, was shot to death after being mugged on Sunday morning, October 18. Evandro was on his way to the nightclub Dito e Feito in Rio’s Centro district at around 1:30AM when he was robbed at the corners of Rua do Ouvidor and Rua do Carmo.
The death has shocked the Afroreggae community. The NGO was founded in 1993 with the original aim of promoting Afro-Brazilian culture in the favela of Vigário Geral, in Rio de Janeiro’s Zone Norte (North Zone).
The group invited youths from the community to get involved in activities such as dance, percussion, football and capoeira in order to prevent them from falling into the world of drug trafficking. It began to grow quickly and by 1997 counted on the support of public figures such as musician Caetano Veloso and actor Regina Casé.
Afroreggae even began to enjoy international success and a documentary on the story and success of the group was released in 2005. Nowadays, Afroreggae is present in three other favelas in Rio including Morro do Cantagalo in Copacabana.
Evandro’s funeral was held at the São Francisco Xavier cemetery in Caju, a Zona Norte neighborhood in Rio. Evandro had been teaching violin for Afroreggae and a group of his students, in Afroreggae T-shirts, played two symphonies at the service. José Junior, another Afroreggae coordinator, gave an emotional speech in which he spoke of Evandro’s contribution to the group since he joined in the year 2000.
A week after Evandro’s death, the news still dominates the Brazilian media. At first, Evandro was believed to have been a victim of an armed robbery, a tragic but not uncommen occurence in Rio. But CCTV footage, which shows the incident on camera, reveals a series of events even more tragic.
The footage shows two men approaching Evandro and throwing him to the ground before shooting him. They then proceed to remove his jacket and flee the scene. A military police car then passes the scene, with a full view of Evandro lying on the ground. The officers do not assist Evandro but chase the thieves. On catching them, they do not arrest them but let them go.
The footage shows one of the thieves walking away just a few minutes later and afterwards, one of the officers putting Evandro’s belongings into the police car. The police drive off, and Evandro is left to bleed to death.
Evandro’s body was eventually found by other police officers on patrol. The confiscated items were discovered not to have been handed over to Evandro’s family but kept by the police officers. An investigation was launched into the officers’ actions, and they were identified and detained by police. Their names were revealed to the press last Thursday, October 22, as Marcus de Oliveira Salles and Denis Leonard Nogueira Bizarro.
The case has provoked a media storm because of Evandro’s high-profile social contribution and because it comes hot on the heels of criticism of the police for their handling of the violence which broke out in Morro dos Macacos, Saturday, October 17.
International newspapers have even picked up on the incident with French newspaper Le Monde describing the police’s actions as exposing the ‘gangrene’ at the heart of Rio’s military police.
The police themselves have condemned Salles and Nogueira’s actions and the pair are to be transferred to a special prison in Benfica, in Rio’s Zona Norte, until their trial.
Further details have emerged from the night of the crime which suggest that other officers also failed to call for help for Evandro. The Ministry of Health also confirmed that an ambulance was only called one hour and twenty minutes after Evandro was shot.
On Monday night, police arrested one of the two men they believe to have robbed and killed Evandro, and he has been identified as Rui Mário.