The Vila Cruzeiro Massacre

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By JULIAN RODRIGUES*

Will the systematic killing of poor blacks by the police be part of the electoral debate? What are the proposals to overcome this horror?

Between 25 to 30 bodies. We don't even know the exact number of poor favela residents who were cruelly and summarily executed by the Rio de Janeiro police in the early hours of May 24th. A year ago, in May 2021, 28 male and female workers were murdered in Jacarezinho by the same Fluminense Military Police under the command of Wilson Witzel, a former judge who won the state government of Rio as a gift by joining Jair Bolsonaro.

Rio’s PM (and civilian) killed 1814 people in 2019 and 1245 in 2020 – official data. Police violence in Rio de Janeiro has intensified (even considering that Brazilian police forces are the ones that kill the most and most die in the world).

The PSC Bolsonarist who became governor, Wilson Witzel – an opportunistic former judge who hitched a ride on the neo-fascist wave, had already announced barbarism in his election campaign: “the right thing is to kill the bandit (…) the police will do the right thing : will aim at the little head and… fire – so there is no mistake”.

Institutional necropolitics openly transformed into a propaganda asset. Like this: a deepening of State violence against young, poor, black people. Reactionary/hypocritical rhetoric and politics of the so-called “war on drugs” always handled by the ruling classes against the floor below.

 

Lula and a new public security

The time has come to face the neo-fascist and conservative hegemony on this issue and save lives, a demand that requires breaking with common sense. It is necessary to openly question, with scientific basis, the current design of the police, plus prohibitionist policies and mass incarceration. Propose a new approach, new legislation, new policies – break with inertia.

In 2023, PEC 51, proposed by former PT senator Lindberhg Farias, inspired by the contributions of Luiz Eduardo Soares, will celebrate its 10th anniversary. This constitutional amendment opened the debate on the removal of the military character of the state security forces and the reorganization of the national public security policy.

The number of violent deaths in Brazil is extremely high – always hovering around 60 per year. It turns out that precisely those who should protect us and prevent these deaths are associated with genocide. In 2021, more than 6 thousand Brazilian men and women were murdered by police officers. In other words: 10% (at least) of the killings are the responsibility of the PMs.

We – from the PT, from the left, from the progressive sectors – have never faced this issue head-on. We usually ignore the elephant in the room, or worse, we repeat the worst conservative practices – far beyond pragmatic pacts (PT state governments say so!).

“What I clearly defend is that I am against the criminalization of marijuana and the user. It makes no sense for the police to catch a user and treat him as if he were a criminal. However, this is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously.” Lulão himself was the one who made this wise statement in 2015, in a debate with young people on ABC.

I believe that one of the fundamental challenges of a new Lula government is to stop the genocide and mass incarceration of young, poor black people. We are millions of people who will vote for Lula with the expectation that a left-wing government can turn the key and open a new period in history. Not afraid to be happy, not afraid to speak the truth.

Mimicking the opponent never worked. It distances us from our historical goals and commitments. It makes us small. Worse: it indistinguishes us, little by little, from our class enemies.

In other words: cosplaying an evangelical-military-reactionary politician who promises to beat you up, police on the streets, thugs in jail and things like that only strengthens their hegemony and goes against what we are and our very reason for existing as a left.

Cease the killing and incarceration of poor, black and peripheral youth. Stop the war on drugs. Rebuild the police apparatus so that it is no longer a device for grinding young/black/poor meat.

Thus: it is necessary that, from now on, the Lula Presidente campaign somehow incorporates this theme. Without falling into provocations from the extreme right, we have to signal new perspectives right now.

Marketers and common sense aside, let's think about the thousands of working, poor, black mothers who lose their children in a violent way. Try to signal a new democracy, in which the State is not just a device of death for those who live in the “wrong” places.

Lula is very sensitive and open to discussing this issue. She has empathy and understands the problem. We have to jump over the barriers of pragmatism (always on duty) and convince the PT and the campaign management of the urgency of this issue. An unavoidable programmatic issue. In the campaign and in the future government (hopefully).

* Julian Rodrigues is a teacher and journalist. Human Rights Activist; he was coordinator of LGBT policies for the city of São Paulo (Haddad administration).

 

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