Racial Policing: In Brazil, Crime Has a Color

In the favelas and peripheries of Brazil, arbitrary arrests—lacking proof and motivated by race
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Photo: Rio On Watch

In the favelas and peripheries of Brazil, arbitrary arrests—lacking proof and motivated by race, community territory and social class—happen every day.

A case study of this nefarious mechanism reflecting Brazil’s structural racism lives in a modest house in the neighborhood of Turiaçu, in Madureira, located in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone, where Tiago Marques de Oliveira, 28, needed to prove his innocence after being accused of attempted murder by the State.

Even without any evidence of the young man’s alleged involvement in the crime, the Military Police arrested him, and the Civil Police vouched for the arrest, which was not only accepted, but also upheld by the Brazilian justice system. Even in the absence of proof, Oliveira joined the country’s contingent of more than 215,000 pre-trial detainees, and has been living in “hell,” in his own words, since July 31 of this year, after a police operation in Morro do Salgueiro.

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