As the black community in America battles abusive acts of racists coupled with cops shooting them in their homes and even on the streets, the fate of fellow blacks in Brazil is no better.
Even as enraged protesters and police faceoff on the streets of Minneapolis in the wake of the murder of 46-year-old African-American George Floyd on suspicion of committing fraud, 14-year-old boy João Pedro Matos Pinto was on Monday, May 18 shot dead. He was playing with a cousin in his uncle’s house in São Gonçalo, in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, when Civil and Military police supposedly on the heels of drug dealers shot him dead in the stomach.
Curiously enough, the boy was airlifted by the security agents in a Civil Police helicopter and taken to the Firefighter aerial operations, south of Rio, about 18km away without informing any family member of the boy. According to the Fire Department, Pinto was already dead upon arrival per a doctor’s assessment.
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With Pinto’s parents and relatives unaware of his demise, the family started a search all night in hospitals and police stations and created a campaign on social media networks with the #procurasejoaopedro hash tag.
It will be on Tuesday morning, May 19, a whole 17 hours later that Pinto’s lifeless body was found at the IML (Legal Medical Institute) of the city. The Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro (PCRJ) claimed it has initiated an investigation to look into the death of the teenager killed during the police operation.
While PCRJ noted that the operation aimed to carry out two search and seizure warrants against leaders of a criminal faction, it added “during the action, drug dealers’ security guards tried to escape by jumping over the wall of a house. They fired at the police and threw grenades at the agents.”
Pinto’s cousin Daniel Blaz, who witnessed the invasion and was with him gave a different version of events. Blaz stated aside using firearms, agents of the Federal and Civil police threw grenades at Pinto’s home, adding the security agents invaded the residence and threw a grenade at the door.
“Closest to the door were me and João. There was a buzz. Then they took a lot of shots at the window, and we came out running to the room. We ran to the room, João and Duda were in the pantry, lying down,” the young man continued. “The police came in, told us to lie on the floor and everyone to shut up,” he detailed.
Pinto’s father Neilton Matos said officers forged a version of the police action that killed his teenage son, adding the walls of the property have at least 72 marks of gunshots.
He also denied criminals had invaded the residence, as stated in the police version stressing “there were no bandits. They entered the house and threw two grenades, besides the shots. There were only teenagers of the family.”
“João was not on the street in confrontation. He was inside a house, a home. Nobody has the right to enter someone’s home and take the life of a 14-year-old,” he lamented.
“If justice is not done here, God’s will be, but we hope it will be fulfilled here. My son had dreams, he already knew what he wanted. He wanted to be a lawyer and he was able to do that. A son with good grades, a boy 100%”, he recalled.
Scores of Brazilians have called for the death penalty for the security agents responsible for the teenager’s death while other state authorities have demanded a full report from the police hierarchy in days to ascertain the way forward.
What’s clear in the US and Brazil is that the police would not enter a mostly white middle-class neighborhood and riddle a house with more than 70 shots.