An afternoon in Porto Alegre

Image: Serkan Göktay


The ruling classes never stop shooting at everything that moves

“The ugly thing is not stealing, but being filmed”, would be the version high-tech of the shameless Portuguese saying. Antisocial acts, from the lightest to the heaviest, are now commonly captured by anonymous witnesses who always carry their cell phone in their bag or pocket, even when they have little access to it. jewelry.

The abused grown man who bullies the girl on the bus, the bully who carries out gratuitous aggression, the citizen who utters sexist, homophobic or racist insults in the heat of an argument or due to consolidated prejudices end up starring in a little film that is often replayed in front of the police chief and even the judge.

A small revolution

The cell phone camera, connected to the internet, now universal, has allowed a small revolution in terms of supporting the defense of civil rights. But not in all places and situations. As commonly occurs in Brazil, where the police kill, attack, attack, fleece, with the connivance and support of the so-called authorities, as a historical instrument of submission of the popular classes.

If cameramen are few and scenes are taken when the light disappears over the horizon, recording a flagrant police or military crime may not be cheap. Even though it is a clear and certain right, protected by legislation, to film the arrogance of public servants.

For this reason and much more, the permanent use, without an on-and-off switch, of body-worn cameras [bodycam] will never be part of the equipment of the repressive forces, cherished by all governments, since the Portuguese set foot on the then white beaches of the so-called country of parrots.

Shooting everything that moves

The ruling classes never stop shooting at everything that moves. They do so, therefore, with regard to the dissemination and content of the complaint filmed by the simple pedestrian. Face, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. censor and limit the individual dissemination of posts. The same happens with the lives carefully monitored as they reach greater diffusion. And so on.

The repercussion of the individual capture of an anti-social act depends on its dissemination through large corporate media, including conservative ones. And, in the process of broadcasting a record, they determine, at their pleasure, the content of the mediatized content, through the verbal or written text that accompanies it, the framing of the images, etc.

An afternoon in Porto Alegre

Saturday, February 17th, Porto Alegre. A beautiful and warm afternoon in the central neighborhood of the capital. A simple occurrence of violence between two citizens, with no major physical consequences, other than bruises. Something normal in the capital of the Gauchos, today one of the most violent cities in Brazil. However, the facts occupied the major national media, before disappearing, crushed by their entertainment vocation.

Record due to passersby who, cell phones in hand, filmed the events and actively interfered in them, with a very clear political and ideological meaning, carefully silenced by mass media outlets. But let's go to what we know about the episode.

The worker and the resident

An application worker, Everton Henrique Goandete da Silva, 41, was injured in the neck with a pocket knife, while sitting on the sidewalk, by Sérgio Camargo Kupstaitis, 72, for no apparent reason. Later, the old man told the police that he came down from his apartment, with a pocket knife cocked, outraged by the motorcycle couriers who would stop near his building. In other words, premeditated aggression.

Everton Silva, attacked by a bladed weapon, in an intentional act, without justification or excuse, which could have seriously injured him, considering himself a citizen with full rights, called the Brigade, the South Rio de Janeiro police-military troop. grandense which, in the Old Republic, became a proud military force capable of confronting the Brazilian army, with an outstanding role in the defeat of the pastoral oligarchy in 1893. [MAESTRI, 2021.] Today, it finds itself reduced to the status of a police force military force used prominently in the repression of the southern population.

Black, short, poorly dressed

Everton da Silva forgot that he was black, short, with ethnic hair, dressed for work, and his attacker was translucent white and proud resident of a neighboring building. He should have followed Chico's advice and called the criminals! Having just disembarked from the police-military vehicles, the detachment, under the command of a Brigadier XGG, brutally pressed Everton against the wall and forcibly handcuffed him.

In continuation, Everton da Silva, who was trying to explain that he had been attacked, was placed in the back of one of the two police-military vehicles, treatment traditionally given to criminals, which he tried to resist, as best he could, since he was a worker and citizen complaining about their rights, disrespected without any reason. If it weren't for the cameramen present, he would certainly have been softened, as usual.

The attacker was treated with kid gloves, as is the case with a resident of a nearby building, white-white, apparently a retired businessman, with an unpronounceable foreign surname. The brigadiers, attentive, allowed him to go up to his apartment, under the excuse of wearing a t-shirt, taking with him the weapon of aggression! She would only be presented to the police the following day. Addressed by the media as “elderly”, the attacker was gently placed in the back seat of one of the two vehicles that responded to the incident.

Anti-racist popular outrage

Several neighbors and passers-by filmed the events, which spread throughout Brazil, highlighting the indisputably racist intervention of the Military Brigade. Governor Eduardo Leite, a root conservative, expressed disgust and ordered an investigation to be opened, which cleared the brutal brigadiers of racism and guilt. The attacker and the victim were charged with minor injuries, a traditional closure in a country where the military and police are untouchable and the workers attacked are without rights.

The mainstream conservative media pointed to the facts as an example of “structural racism”, as they have done when reporting similar cases every day. And thus, a shovel was laid on the humiliation of Everton, surnamed Silva, by the Military Brigade, protagonist of similar and much more serious related successes, always swept under the carpet by the so-called government and judicial authorities.

Brigadians against the wall

As is quite common, the neighbors and passers-by who filmed the events did not do so out of curiosity or morbid sense. The multiple “takes” allow us to follow the active action of those present in defense of the offended black worker. In some cases, with almost aggressive behavior towards the brigade members, who acted under permanent popular pressure. If you don't believe me, carefully review the various footage of the events.

Those present constantly pointed out who the aggressor and the person attacked were. They were outraged by the different treatment given to a white resident of the neighborhood and a black worker. The Brigadians' accusation of racism was voiced several times. And the vast majority of those present were white, possibly residents of Rua Miguel Tostes, in the Rio Branco neighborhood, “one of the most traditional and well-known in Porto Alegre”, located “in the central region of the city”, “a valued region” that “offers a multitude of attractions and facilities”, having “everything that the city of Porto Alegre can offer”.

Throughout Brazil, in filmed scenes of explicit racism, it is quite common for white, brown and black witnesses to the acts to express their rejection. However, the media reading of what is recorded systematically zooms in, cutting out or leaving in the shadows the almost habitual indignation of those present at such behaviors. They thus illuminate racism and obscure popular anti-racism.

Whites against blacks

Especially in the so-called West, identitarianism – black, elected, ethnic, etc. – has been exported by big imperialist capital, from the USA, as an instrument for dissolving the consciousness of exploitation, by capital, of workers, wage earners, marginalized people, etc., and for disorganizing their resistance. The struggle between the world of work and capital would be something belonging to the past, overcome by the modernity of identity demands.

In Brazil, Yankee identity rhetoric has an almost simultaneous translation. We seek to define our country as a majority Afro-Brazilian nation, authoritatively defining all nationals who are not clearly white as black. A revolutionary adaptation of the American racist and white supremacist proposal that a drop of non-white blood, even from a distant ancestor, makes an individual black – “one drop rule”.

The aim is to create, in this way, an insurmountable contradiction, completely invented, between a “white people” – who constitute, without economic, social, etc., “whiteness” differentiation –, all made up of exploiters of the “black people”. – “negritude” –, also essentially homogeneous. This in a country where, according to IBGE data, we have quantitatively more exploited whites than blacks, even though the latter, proportionally, bear the greater weight of class society.

structural racism

The aim is to create a reading of Brazil as a country where “structural racism”, another category imported from the Estates, without paying taxes at customs. Thesis disseminated in a confusing, superficial and demagogic book, but hyped to exhaustion by the media and institutions that legitimize capital, by our Sílvio Almeida, current “blank-handed” minister of Human Rights and Citizenship, who has behaved like the three little monkeys who see nothing, hear nothing, speak nothing, even when faced with the most aberrant crimes committed, especially by police forces, across the country.

In Brazil, we definitely do not know structural racism as it does not constitute an indispensable and essential constitutive basis for the reproduction of capital and exploitation in Brazil. For this and other reasons that I have already discussed at length in the article and, therefore, I allow myself not to repeat it here. [MAESTRI, 2021.] This does not prevent racism from being a very strong cultural determination in our country, as well as machismo, in its forms soft and aggressive. Racism and machismo surpassed only by male homophobia.

However, there also remains among us a strong and precious popular anti-racist tendency, which rejects explicit racial discrimination and aggression, one of the most valuable assets of our sad culture, which the liberal-identitarian tide seeks to deny and suffocate. And its strengthening and expansion constitutes one of the greatest resources in the anti-racist fight. In this sense, every spontaneous popular anti-racist act must be mediatized and publicized, and not silenced, as an example of a line of behavior to be followed and radicalized. Therefore, following Sílvio Almeida's categorical laxity, I allow myself to propose the trend in Brazil of a strong popular “structural anti-racism”.[1]

* Mario Maestri is a historian. Author, among other books, of Sons of Ham, sons of the dog. The enslaved worker in Brazilian historiography (FCM Editora).


ALMEIDA, Silvio. Structural racism. São Paulo, Pollen, 2019.

MAESTRI, Mario. Racism is not structural. The Earth is Round, 07/04/2021.

MAESTRI, Mario. brief historyóRio Grande river Sul: from Pré-Historyólaugh to the present day. Porto Alegre, FCM; Passo Fundo, UPF Editora, 2021.


[1] Thank you for reading Italian linguist Florence Carboni.

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