By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Activists throughout Brazil took to the streets on Sunday following the death of Pedro Henrique Gonzaga, a 19-year-old black teenager who died of a heart attack on Thursday (February 14th) after allegedly being choked by a security guard at the Extra supermarket in the upscale Barra da Tijuca neighborhood.
Hundreds of protesters, who identified themselves as Brazil’s Black Lives Matter, stood outside the Extra supermarket where the incident took place chanting Gonzaga’s name.
“There has never been a Black Lives Matter [movement] in Brazil to compare to the United States,” exclaimed Rene Silva, one of the protest’s organizers to the Guardian. “[B]ut this year I think it will happen more often because the black community is more and more united.”
The inciting incident took place last Thursday in the Extra supermarket when Gonzaga was restrained by security guard, Davi Ricardo Amâncio. Video footage shows Amâncio sprawled on top of Gonzaga who appears not to be moving.
Onlookers can be heard pleading with Amâncio to let Gonzago go, with woman heard shouting, “He is suffocating him.” Gonzaga was unconscious and taken to the hospital where he ultimately died.
According to investigators, Amâncio told police that Gonzaga tried to grab the security guard’s gun while repeatedly saying, “I’m going to kill! I’m going to kill!”
Amâncio claimed that in restraining Gonzaga he only rested his weight on top of him and did not press his neck or choke him.
Amâncio was arrested at the scene, but was released the next day on bail.
In a statement, the Extra supermarket chain asserted that “it does not accept any act of violence, excesses and repudiates all forms of racism.”
They added that it is “not exempting itself from the responsibilities of what has occurred” and that it has every “interest in clarifying the situation as fast as possible….We are working with the authorities to provide all the information available.”