Black Lives Matter hits Brazil after fatal chokehold of teenager

Francis Akhalbey Feb 20, 2019 at 09:24am

February 20, 2019 at 09:24 am | News

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

February 20, 2019 at 09:24 am | News

Demonstrators at the Extra supermarket in Rio de Janeiro -- Screenshot via video shared by @domphillips on Twitter

The death of a 19-year old Afro-Brazilian has triggered demonstrations in some cities in the South American country with activists saying it is spurring the emergence of their very own Black Lives Matter movement.

According to The Guardian, demonstrators gathered outside the Extra supermarket in the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro demanding justice for the death of Pedro Gonzaga, who died of a heart attack on Thursday after a security guard attempted to subdue him with a “sleep hold”.

In a video of the incident that has been circulating on social media, the security guard, Davi Amâncio, can be seen on top of a completely unmoving Gonzaga despite pleas from onlookers to let him go with one woman saying: “He is suffocating him.”

Speaking with The Guardian, Lyz Ramos, a 19-year-old student protester said: “We have to take a position against this to stay alive. It’s a basic issue.”

Some local media outlets, however, suggested Gonzaga instigated the incident. O Globo newspaper reported he was at the supermarket having lunch with his mother before heading to a rehab clinic as he was a drug user when he became aggressive and attempted to seize Amâncio’s gun.

The video below, however, raises eyebrows of the claim he tried to reach for the gun:

Afro-Brazilians are comparing the circumstances behind Gonzaga’s death to that of African-American Eric Garner, who died in a similar manner. A #VidasNegrasImportam (Black Lives Matter) campaign is also gaining momentum across Brazilian social media as a result.

“There has never been a Black Lives Matter [movement] in Brazil to compare to the United States, but this year I think it will happen more often because the black community is more and more united,” said Rene Silva, one of the organisers of the Rio protest to The Guardian. “We want to talk about more about black lives matter, for society to understand we can’t stand racism anymore.”

Majority of Brazilians who are killed each year are either black or mixed race with a 2018 annual Violence Atlas report by the government revealing they make up 71.5 percent of the 64,000 casualties.

Watch an extended version of the video below. Viewer discretion is advised.

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