Rio violence: Protests as girl, eight, 'killed by police'

Rio violence: Protests as woman, eight, ‘killed by police’

Ágatha Vitória Sales FélixPicture copyright
Household image/Voz das Comunidades

Picture caption

The eight-year-old woman was along with her grandmother in a van when she was killed

Protests have erupted in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro after an eight-year-old woman was allegedly killed by police, because the variety of victims in operations by safety forces continues to rise.

Ágatha Vitória Gross sales Félix was along with her mom in a van when she was shot within the again in a poor space on Friday.

Residents mentioned officers had focused a motorcyclist when she was hit. Police mentioned that they had responded to an assault.

A file 1,249 individuals have died in such raids in Rio from January to August.

Ágatha is the fifth little one to die on account of violence blamed on the police this yr.

Critics say the hard-line strategy of Governor Wilson Witzel, who got here to workplace in January, is behind the rising variety of victims within the metropolis’s poorest areas – favelas – a lot of them managed by highly effective drug gangs.

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Ágatha was going again house along with her mom on Friday night time in a van when she was shot within the again in Alemão, one among Rio’s largest favelas. She was despatched to a hospital however died.

In an announcement, police mentioned officers had responded to assaults from criminals, which led to a confrontation. An investigation has been launched.

But Ágatha’s family disputed this, saying officers had targeted a motorcyclist that was passing nearby when she was hit, and there was no gunfight occurring on the time.

“A man got here on a motorcycle and the police requested him to cease. He did not cease and left, he was unarmed, and the police shot. There was no confrontation, the one shot was [from the police],” the woman’s uncle, Elias, advised native media.

Her grandfather, Ailton, mentioned: “They [authorities] will say {that a} little one died in a confrontation. What confrontation? Was my granddaughter armed …?”

One other dying for the statistics

By Hugo Bachega, BBC Information

One other poor, black household in mourning in Rio; one other younger, harmless life misplaced to a tragedy that spares nearly no-one within the metropolis’s favelas. And, sadly, no signal that it’s going to make any distinction.

Governor Witzel has promised to battle violence with violence, a coverage that has been tried up to now and has largely failed in attaining any lasting outcome. As increasingly individuals die he has insisted he’s heading in the right direction and, outdoors the poorest districts, many see it as the value to be paid in an effort to scale back crime.

Within the favelas, clearly, it’s a totally different story. After I visited Alemão to cowl one more dying blamed on the police, residents have been nearly unanimous in telling me how they see trigger-happy brokers because the supply of many of the violence.

Ágatha’s smiley face was on the entrance web page of many newspapers in Rio. However as her grandfather mentioned, she is prone to turn out to be simply one other statistic. Maybe even worse, the possibility that the household will ever see any justice is near zero.

Learn Hugo’s full report

On Saturday, a whole bunch of residents protested, some carrying placards saying “Lives within the favelas matter” and “Cease killing us”. Different protests have been held on Sunday hours earlier than Ágatha’s burial.

Artists, campaigners, politicians and social media customers condemned the governor’s insurance policies. Mr Witzel has not commented on Ágatha’s case however his workplace mentioned it “profoundly regretted” her dying.

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Residents marched on Sunday to pay tribute to the woman

Mr Witzel, a conservative former decide and marine, has adopted what many describe as a coverage of confrontation, using closely armed officers and even helicopters with snipers to battle gangsters in densely populated favelas.

Final yr, he mentioned the authorities would “dig graves” to bury criminals if needed, and vowed to “slaughter” any armed suspect.

Opposition parliamentarian Renata Souza, who heads the Human Rights Fee at Rio State Meeting, advised the BBC: “The governor [has given] the safety forces a licence to kill… The state cannot act as a terrorist.”

Earlier this yr, she known as on the United Nations to research the police operations and, this month, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet raised considerations in regards to the rise in killings by the police.

Variety of individuals killed in police operations in Rio

Mr Witzel – who has expressed his plans to run for the presidency – has typically cited a drop in homicides and different crimes as proof that his insurance policies are working. However specialists say it’s not clear if this can be a direct results of his strategy.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who additionally defends using pressure towards suspects, has repeatedly mentioned that “a great felony is a useless felony”. He and Mr Witzel have supported adjustments within the laws that will shield officers from prosecution in the event that they kill suspects.

Final month, Mr Bolsonaro mentioned criminals would “die within the streets like cockroaches” if the adjustments have been authorised.

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