Brazil Police Kill ‘Drug Traffickers’ Following Favela Protest

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A security force operation in northern Rio de Janeiro has left eight people dead, as the country struggles to contain a popular uprising partly fueled by police brutality.

Monday’s violence came after residents of Favela Nova Holanda held a peaceful protest in Bonsucesso, during which criminals allegedly began looting and vandalizing local businesses, reported O Globo. When a Special Operations Battallion (BOPE) sergeant and a 35-year-old favela resident were killed, more than 400 military police and National Security Force troops moved in to search for the culprits, as EFE reports.

At least seven people were killed in the ensuing operation, five of whom police claimed were a band of drug dealers, as well as two favela residents. At least six people were injured.

InSight Crime Analysis

Monday’s violence stands in stark contrast to Rio security forces’ lauded Pacification Program, in which troops move into crime-controlled areas in carefully-planned and typically violence-free operations. Securing favelas without firing “a single shot” has been a source of pride for commanders.

Unfortunately, shooting people dead is the other face of Brazilian policing, and one which is very well-known. Indeed police abuses were one of the catalysts that turned protests against bus fare rises in Brazilian cities in recent weeks into a massive social uprising which has taken over the country and prompted President Dilma Rousseff to offer sweeping reforms. Police in Rio and São Paulo, Brazil’s two biggest cities, have killed 11,000 people in the last ten years – in 2008 one person was killed for every 23 arrested, compared to the US police average of one death per 37,000 people arrested.

Police also have a history of misreporting events surrounding deaths, meaning assertions surrounding those killed in Favela Nova Holanda should be treated with caution. US NGO Human Rights Watch documented in 2009 how Brazil police falsely labelled extrajudicial killings as “resistance killings” — where victims had been shot after allegedly firing on police.

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