Massive protests erupt in Brazil after Black 19-year-old Pedro Gonzaga killed while being restrained
According to Guardian, after a security guard killed a 19-year-old Black man, Pedro Gonzaga, Brazil has been faced with a series of protests in 5 of the country’s largest cities drawing comparisons to the uprising in Ferguson and other U.S. cities following the murder of Mike Brown. Gonzaga was killed by Davi Amáncio, a security guard at a supermarket, while he was being restrained. At least one onlooker said on a video of the violent encounter that Amáncio was “suffocating him (Gonzaga).” Gonzaga was taken to the hospital, unconscious, where he was then pronounced dead.
Black Brazilians began posting the hashtag #VidasNegrasImportam (which translates to Black Lives Matter), and comparing the death of Gonzaga to the death of Eric Garner, the Staten Island, NY man whose police killing was also caught on film, and he was also suffocated. As Reno Silva, one of the principal organizers of the protest in Rio de Janerio and the founder of Voz das Comunidades, a newspaper from the Complexo do Alemáo favela, told Guardian, “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.”
Silva also communicated that the protests were not just for Gonzaga, but also about the deaths of Jenifer Gomes, an 11-year-old child who was killed last week, and about Rio police recently killing 13 unarmed men, some of which were gang members, however, and denying accountability for those murders.
Many Black Brazillian actors, rappers and celebrities publicly applauded the protests. Lucy Ramos, an actress, shared a lyric from the singer Elza Soares, “The cheapest meat in the supermarket is Black meat.”
As activists against police violence are familiar with in the United States, Gonzaga’s life and worth have gone on trial in the wake of his death. The newspaper O Globo reported that he was a drug user and was on the way to going to a rehab clinic with his mother when he suffered a hallucination or a fit in the supermarket’s food court. A lawyer for the security company at the store said that Gonzaga had rushed the security officer and tried to take his gun, but video of the incident available so far only shows Gonzaga approaching the security guard and another supermarket staff member, falling to the ground, getting up and falling to the ground again.
The killing marks a year since the murder of Black Brazillian activist and city counselor Marielle Franco, and no one has yet been charged with her murder. As Vanderlea Aguiar, a 42-year-old woman who is a public servant and participant in the marches told Guardian, “Every day we get more news of more youth dying… A big movement is growing every day and we are making more people aware.”