Tensions remain high in Sao Paulo, Brazil after military police shot and killed a 10-year-old boy accused of stealing a luxury car. Outrage over the incident has sparked heated protests between Black militants and white demonstrators who support the deadly police action.
Ítalo Ferreira de Jesus Siqueira was fatally wounded by Brazilian authorities after they say the child was armed and attempted to shoot them first. According to Black Women of Brazil, an 11-year-old accomplice who was in the car at the time of the shooting confirmed the police’s version of the incident.
But family and neighbors of Siqueira have a hard time believing the military police’s account, let alone the fact that a 10-year-old was able to drive away with a car. Plus, general mistrust of the Brazilian police and their violent tactics isn’t a new phenomenon.
“How does a child of 10 years jump a condo wall and come out with a luxury car?,” a friend of Siqueira’s told Black Women of Brazil. “How does a 10-year-old exchange gunfire with police. He had no weapon. Not even a toy gun.”
The boy’s mother, Cíntia Ferreira Francelino, said her son didn’t know how to drive a car or shoot a gun.
Public outcry concerning the deadly incident has sparked protests in and around Sao Paulo between Black militants who oppose Brazil’s police brutality and those who support the military police’s actions.
According to Black Women of Brazil, a group of about 30 Black militants from the suburbs and 20 (mostly white) residents from the Morumbi neighborhood gathered on the morning of June 11 to declare their support or opposition to the officers who shot young Siqueira.
The anti-police brutality demonstrators could be seen holding signs that read “racistas assassinos” (racist killers) as well as banners with the photos of victims killed by military police.
“I am here fighting against the bourgeoisie that wants to go street to naturalize and trivialize our death,” said Tatiane Nefertari, 21, a resident of Vila Formosa. “The death of youth, Blacks, from the periphery.”
Meanwhile, white police supporters were heard shouting “We support the MP” and “A child is in school, a hoodlum is in jail,” the news site reports. At one point during the protest, six police officers turned to the group of MP sympathizers and struck a salute, thanking them for their support.
“Continence is a sign of respect to all good citizens,” Lt. Damasceno told Ponte Journalismo on why his officers chose to make the gesture.
Black Women of Brazil reports that as the lieutenant was explaining himself, a pro-military police supporter shouted “Don’t wait for a hoodlum to shoot, no, stick the bullet in and kill, kill!”
“I prefer the death of a 10-year old child criminal to a police family man,” said another.
Despite the officers’ outwardly one-sided gesture, the office of the Secretariat of Public Safety asserts that the military police did not take sides during the demonstration.
“…Continence is a military compliance and is carried out between police, including those in reserve,” the office said in a statement. “The MP followed the two demonstrations to ensure the safety of all involved, as it does in all the protests.
According to the Guardian, protests over Siqueira’s untimely death have even spread to Rio, the home of this summer’s Olympic games. Authorities say a spike in violence in the city has prompted them to take extra precautions as they prepare for the world-class event.
“…What we need [is] a debate about police behavior and training,” demonstrator Manuela Cantalice said at a peace march mourning the death of the 10-year-old victim. “We cannot stand by and watch as our kids die without the protection of society.”