A crime of race and class

Image: ColeraAlegria


Commentary on the murder of João Alberto Silveira Freitas

The murder of João Alberto Silveira Freitas, a black man known as Beto by his friends, who was beaten and killed on November 19 by white security guards at a Carrefour supermarket in Porto Alegre, sparked a wave of national indignation. Beto was 40 years old and is survived by his wife, Milena Borges Alves, 43, a caregiver for the elderly. Beto lived with his wife in a community in Vila Farrapos, in the north of Porto Alegre, where he was very popular with the neighbors. He earned his living with odd jobs, doing small jobs as a painter and mason. The security guards knocked his head on the ground several times and Beto cried out for help and asked to breathe, in the presence of his wife, who was prevented from approaching.

The killers, a 24-year-old man and a 30-year-old man, were arrested red-handed. One of them is a military policeman and was taken to a military prison. The other is store security and is in the Civil Police building. The investigation treats the crime as qualified homicide. In the images that circulate on the networks, it is possible to see the two men wearing black clothes, commonly used by security guards, punching the face of the victim, who is on the ground. A woman who was nearby filmed the action of the attackers. Then, already with blood spread on the floor, other people appeared around the attacked man, while the aggressors continued trying to immobilize him on the ground. A Samu team tried to revive the man after the beating, but he died at the scene. Initial analyzes by the Criminalistics and Medico-Legal departments of the General Institute of Expertise (IGP) in Rio Grande do Sul indicated asphyxiation as the cause of death. As in the case of George Floyd in the US, which turns out to be an international standard.

The racist elements of the crime are glaring. Carrefour, a multinational of French origin, has a history of cases of racial violence on its premises, despite numerous demonstrations and complaints by black movements about racist practices. The crime of November 19 reaffirms the existence of an institutionalized pattern of disrespect and violence aimed at the black population by this multinational. Which comes from afar. In 2009, suspected of an impossible crime – the theft of his own car – the USP employee, Januário Alves de Santana, black, was subjected to a beating session with punches, headbutts and blows of the butt, by five security guards from the Carrefour hypermarket in São Paulo. The examples, dozens and denounced, could be multiplied.

It should not be forgotten, however, that the murderers, including the MP who was illegally “working” there (with full knowledge of the employing firm, who should be brought to justice for this reason alone) acted according to orders and training provided by the outsourced company. of security at the service of the hypermarket, called Vector, and by Carrefour itself. Exploited people transformed into murderers of other exploited people, based on capitalist profit. This is a “property protection” standard. Bestiality at the service of capitalist profit, down to the smallest detail and down to the last penny, even in the face of suspicion (which presumably was no more than that) of the loss of a few miserable caraminguás.

The murderers will be brought before the Justice, and will probably suffer heavy prison sentences (the MP involved has already been separated from the corporation), while their bosses will make “humanitarian” declarations and promises to review their “security systems”. Perhaps, they will even make some donation (the profit of a few minutes of operation of the company) to the victim's family. In Brazil, as in other Latin American countries, racism is at the service of and merges with class exploitation and oppression. To fight against racism, to fight against capitalism, for a government of workers in the city and countryside. To fight against capitalism, to end racism in the ranks of the exploited themselves. May Carrefour and Vetor be held accountable for the crime, before the accused themselves. And that's it for now.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Contemporary history issues (Book workshop).


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