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Violence erupts in Brazil after black man beaten to death

作者:admin 2020-11-23

Violence erupts in Brazil after black man beaten to death

Relatives and friends of Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, who died after being beaten by white security agents in a supermarket belonging to the Carrefour group, attend his funeral in Porto Alegre, Brazil on Saturday. Photo: AFP

 

Emotions were running high on Saturday at the funeral of a black Brazilian man beaten to death by white security guards in an assault that sparked protests across the country.

A video taken Thursday night in the southern city of Porto Alegre showed 40-year-old welder Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas repeatedly being punched in the face and head by a security guard while he is being restrained by another at a Carrefour supermarket. The clip quickly went viral on social ­media.

"It is an immense sadness. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I'm struggling to hold back my tears," Silveira Freitas' father, Joao Batista Rodrigues Freitas, told AFP.

In the presence of about 40 people, mostly relatives, Silveira Freitas was buried in a somber ceremony.

"I hope that all the emotion that his death has caused will make our society ­better... that we teach the principles of equality in school," his father said.

According to the preliminary investigation into his death, Silveira Freitas was beaten for more than five minutes before being immobilized by his attackers and ­dying of asphyxiation.

On Saturday morning, in his speech at the virtual G20 summit, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro downplayed structural racism in Brazil, a country where around 55 percent of its population of 212 million identifies as black or mixed-race.

The leader highlighted the "mixed" ­nature of Brazil and condemned "those who want to sow conflict and discord" by trying to "import" tensions into the country "that are not part of its history."

"As a man and president, I see everyone as the same color: green and yellow," Bolsonaro said, referring to the colors of the Brazilian flag, and repeating what he had said the night before on Twitter - that he is "color blind."

Protests broke out Friday - Black Consciousness Day in Brazil - in Sao Paulo, as well as the capital Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, many in front of branches of the French-owned Carrefour supermarket chain.

In a statement on Friday, the local unit of Carrefour said it deeply regretted what it called a brutal death and said it immediately took steps to ensure those responsible were legally punished. It said it would terminate the contract with the security firm, fire the employee in charge of the store at the time of the incident, and close the store as a mark of respect.



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