By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A video recorded by a resident yesterday afternoon (Thursday, March 30th) shows the moment when two young men, wounded and fallen on the sidewalk, are executed in cold blood by two policias militares (PM, or military police).
The images of the killing in the neighborhood of Fazenda Botafogo, in the Zona Norte (North Zone), was circulated by social media and quickly picked up in local news outlets, and now is being strongly criticized by human rights activists.
At the scene, there had been a shootout between the PM and drug traffickers, which resulted in the death of Eduarda Alves da Conceição, a thirteen-year-old girl, who was hit by a stray bullet while doing physical education classes at a school in the neighborhood.
“The 2nd DPJM took the case and opened a summary investigation. The police will be identified and listened to,” said public relations PM Major Ivan Blaz according to local news reports.
The researcher of Institutional Violence of the organization Justiça Global, Monique Cruz, considers that there is a deepening of the violence practiced by police in the state. “This situation represents the continuation of something that has been happening for some years.”
“Police violence and executions are a recurring and institutionalized practice in Rio de Janeiro. Only in January and February of this year 182 people were killed for police intervention in the favelas,” said the researcher.
The military police press office clarified that they were aware of the video that circulated in social networks and shows the actions of the PM in the area of the Fazenda Botafogo on Thursday afternoon.
According to the statement, due to what has been exposed, the General Command has determined that the Military Police Internal Affairs will assume the “determination of flagrant illegality” and hold those involved responsible.
Social activist Antônio Carlos Costa of the Movimento Rio de Paz (Rio Peace Movement) said it is necessary to intervene in the state, mainly with resources, to respond to the situation of violence. “We have reached a point of unrest. We are facing a failed state, we discover that a criminal faction, present in the three powers, led the state to bankruptcy.”
“The UPP project has collapsed and we are now living in a scenario of complete disorganization, which tends to worsen if swift decisions are not taken. The police are working with nerves to the skin, without any structure, the [drug] traffic has resumed the breath and the moral and we are before a chaotic picture and without leadership. There has to be action from above, involving the Union,” said Costa.
According to him, the military police, who have low pay and still receive the wages delayed or in installments, also end up being victims of the system, since many also die in the confrontation of the criminality. “He’s poor, killing poor people,” he said.
State Representative Marcelo Freixo (PSOL), president of the Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly (ALERJ), said he would charge the Security Department with immediate action against police violence. “We have just made a Parliamentary Inquiry Commission on arrest warrants and I hope that the Legislative Assembly can vote on the final report.”
Freixo adds, “The situation is very serious. It was not even February and the police killed eighty people. We have a lot of police that die, it was 45 this year alone, it’s a lot of killing.”
Data released by Rio de Janeiro’s Instituto de Segurança Publica – ISP (Public Security Institute) earlier this week shows that February of 2017 was one of the most violent months in the state’s history, with violent death rates increasing by 28.1 percent and vehicle thefts by 40.3 percent in relation to February of 2016.