By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Friday, January 17th, one Rio judge ruled to prohibit a “rolezinho” scheduled to take place a Leblon mall on Sunday, while across the Guanabara Bay, in Niterói another judge struck down a similar injunction, allowing the “rolezinho” there in Niterói’s Plaza Mall to go on as scheduled during the night of Saturday, January 18th.
Rolezinhos, loosely translated as little strolling, are a movement that typically involves large groups of suburban teenagers and preteens gathering in urban malls to socialize.
The movement, which began recently in early December of last year in São Paulo, caused concern amongst some residents, leading to reinforcement in the city’s malls’ security. Police force included use of tear gas and rubber bullets and lead to multiple arrests (with few to no reported convictions). Later many rolezinhos were prohibited in the city.
Sociologist João Clemente Neto of Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie told Agência Brasil in explanation for the appearance of the “rolezinho” movement; “If you are in some places, even in middle-class neighborhoods, you can not find spaces for [recreation and culture]. If you take the city of São Paulo, how many millions of tweens and teens do we have? An, the spaces for free expression are tiny.”
In a show of solidarity with São Paulo and in effort to proclaim their right to occupy the mall spaces in and around Rio, young residents begin to schedule their own rolezinhos throughout the city and surrounding areas.
While Rio de Janeiro’s Secretary of Security stated on Tuesday that the rolezinho planned for the Leblon shopping mall on Sunday was not a crime and that the police what not enforce security measures there, on Thursday Judge Isabela Pessanha Chagas of the 14th Civil Court of Rio ruled in favor of an injunction brought by four companies to prohibit the meeting of the youths.
Chagas stated in her opinion of her ruling that; “The malls are private property, and with that they have secure property rights, […] including the right to restrain the actions of possible protesters who intend to cause public disorder or facilitate acts of vandalism, as well to prevent occurrences of theft of property which would violate the right of tenants. ”
Chagas concluded, “We emphasize, though, that to allow such meetings would be endangering the physical safety of any consumer that may be there, especially the families who might be present enjoying their time accompanied by their children and/or the elderly, who are often at the malls on weekends.”
In contrast, in the neighboring city of Niterói, judge Alexandre Duarte Scisinio ruled against an injunction brought by Condomínio do Edifício Plaza Shopping and the Fashion Mall S/A to prohibit the “rolzehino” in the city’s Plaza Mall on Saturday.
“To allow the strange desire of authors [of this injunction] to obtain a court order,” Scisinio stated in his ruling, “to allow this action to ban this or that individual or group from entering their shopping [mall] , which is open to the general public, it would give a particular group the absurd discretion to act this way or that and to reject the most diverse consumers, for all kinds of reasons, whenever it suited them.”
“No one is obliged to do or refrain from doing something except by law and everyone is free in terms of forms of expression and thinking. These are dogmas contained in our Constitution,” stated Scisinio.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.