foot on neck, video of police arresting black woman is controversial

A Brazilian television channel aired an amateur video on Sunday, July 12, showing a police officer exerting strong pressure with the foot on a black woman’s neck, lying on her stomach, to mobilize her. The images of the scene, which was taken in May in São Paulo, but which had not yet been broadcast, have provoked many reactions in this country where police violence is frequent. Lying face down on the ground, a woman is immobilized by a policeman who presses her neck with one foot. As if to push her a little more with his face down and prevent him from fighting, he then begins to lift his other foot to put all his weight on the victim’s neck.

This scene takes place in Parelheiros, a popular neighborhood in southern São Paulo, on May 30. The pictures, filmed with a mobile phone, were not released until Sunday 12 July at “Fantastico”, a broad-based news magazine from TV Globo. “The more I fought, the more he pressed on my neck,” said the victim, a 51-year-old woman who testified with her face hidden on the show.

This shop owner was arrested in front of the small bar she runs in the neighborhood. That day, bars and restaurants were banned from opening in the city due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The shopkeeper had his bar open. “Customers come, have their drinks and leave,” she says. It was when a customer parked his car outside the bar, with the loud noise, that neighbors called the police, reports the TV show.According to the police, when the agents arrived, several customers were in front of the bar drinking alcoholic beverages. A man, described by the store owner as a friend, was arrested. She says she intervened when he was allegedly brutalized. In pictures filmed in front of the bar, a man actually seems to be lying on the ground on the sidewalk, a policeman on him. The store owner is next.

The prevalence in amateur pictures made by “Fantastico” shows that at the same time, a few meters away, a second policeman points his gun at another man. The latter, who is standing in the middle of the road, takes off his t-shirt and raises his arms in the air as if to abandon himself while several people film the scene. The police then return to their colleague on the sidewalk: in videos broadcast by TV Globo, we can see him push the shop owner away from the man who was arrested on the ground.

One of the two policemen points his gun at a young man. Screenshot of one of the movies obtained by TV Globo.

On the ground, a policeman immobilizes a man, while the shop owner is rejected by the other policeman. Screenshot of one of the movies obtained by TV Globo.
“I told him [au policier] to stop, he pushed me against the bar grill, punched me three times, knocked me down and broke my leg, “the woman testified. TV Globo ensures that the pictures she had access to do not show this part of the scene. The woman also says that she had undergone a second immobilization, which is also not shown in the video: “Then he put one knee against my neck and another on my rib. I have gone out four times, “she says. Brazilian press reports that the woman was taken to Grajaú Hospital in São Paulo, where she was found to have a broken leg. Police said they were attacked and that they must react to contain the store owner and the men present. In their report, they claim that the woman used it an iron bar to threaten them.

The state government in São Paulo announced on Sunday that the police had been suspended from their duties and that an investigation had been launched. “The scenes shown on the Fantastico program are disgusting. The violent and unnecessary behavior of some police officers is unacceptable,” Tweeted Governor João Doria.

In June, following several cases of police violence in São Paulo, the governor had already announced setting up a training program to avoid abuse, as well as installing cameras on military police uniforms.

Echoing the death of George Floyd in the United States

On social media, several Internet users reacted to the shock video broadcast by TV Globo, comparing in particular this arrest with that which led to the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, USA. Some publications are accompanied by the hashtag #VidasNegrasImportam (“black life means question”), inspired by the American movement Black Lives Matter.

On Twitter, Erica Hilton, Member of Parliament for the State of São Paulo, writes: “It seems that the police here, instead of being shocked like the rest of the world by the George Floyd case in the United States, decided to imitate barbarism. These images show, according to her, São The racism and ideology of the Paulo government.

Translation: “Now you will read this: a 51-year-old black woman was * suffocated in an arrest * in the same way as George Floyd. It happened here in Brazil, and you do nothing.”

Raull Santiago, a journalist and activist, also compares the case of this woman to George Floyd, adding: “Fortunately, she did not die in this attempted murder.”

Asked this Tuesday, July 14th in the program “Encontro”, which was also broadcast on the Globo network, the dealer himself made the parallel with George Floyd. “I thought I was going to die like him,” she said.