By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A police operation in Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela community, Rocinha, over the weekend resulted in the death of eight community residents, according to Rio’s Military Police.
According to the military police, agents from the Shock Battalion were surprised by armed individuals and ‘had to react’. “Earlier this morning (Saturday March 24th), military police from the BPChq police patrolled the community when gunmen shot at the teams,” read the statement issued on Saturday afternoon by PMERJ (Rio de Janeiro Military Police).
In social media however, residents say that some of victims were coming out of a party early Saturday morning when they were shot in the back by police officers. Others surrendered, say residents through the ‘Rocinha Alerta’ channel on Facebook, but were executed by policemen ‘anyway’.
Brazil’s federal government announced a military intervention in Rio de Janeiro’s security sector at the end of February, hoping the country’s armed forces would be able to stop the increased violence seen both in the favela communities and in more affluent neighborhoods of the city. But violence has not stopped, or even decreased, in the eyes of the majority of the population.
According to Datafolha study released on Sunday (25), a survey conducted last week shows that 76 percent of Rio’s population support the military intervention, while twenty percent of those interviewed were against and four percent did not have an opinion.
Nonetheless, 71 percent of those in favor of the Armed Forces coming in to end the violence say that they haven’t felt any changes yet. The military intervention is scheduled to end only on December 31st, 2018
Early Monday morning, March 26th, another warning came over social media to area residents. “Shots heard in Rocinha. Be careful on Lagoa-Barra (highway). Attention in the region,” read the “Onde Tem Tiroteio” (where are the shootouts) social media feed. Police reported that by 9AM one resident had been killed and that the operation at the community was ‘on-going’.