Brazilian Black Killed on the Eve of Black Consciousness Day


Systemic injustices, police brutality, and racism have in the recent past been headlined in various news reports. The most current of such controversies is the murder of 40-year-old welder Joao Alberto Silveria Freitas, Brazilian Black, on Thursday night. This was a day to celebrate Black consciousness day.

A video showing Alberto being restrained by a security guard while another guard punched him in the face and head at a Carrefour supermarket emerged on social media. The video triggered demonstrations on Friday as Brazil observed Black Consciousness Day.



Protests over the Killing

The first round of demonstrations was on Friday, November 20, after the Thursday night disturbing videos. The protests continued on Saturday when Alberto was laid to rest.

Rio de Janeiro’s Sunday protests saw close to 100 protestors gather at a shopping center hosting one of the Carrefour supermarkets. The protestors displayed banners with the popular slogan “Black Lives Matter,” while others read “Murderous Carrefour.”

In a bid to clear Carrefour’s name, the CEO Alexandre Bompard, on his Twitter handle, on Friday expressed his regrets terming the occurrence as a “horrible act” and the images “unbearable.” He further ordered “a complete review of training for employees and outsourced personnel in matters of safety, respect for diversity.”

The Rio protestors said they “no longer accept apologies” but instead call for action.

They have been called by the demonstrators for Brazilians to refrain from purchasing items from the French origin supermarket

Structural Racism in Brazil

Brazil is home to the world’s second-largest population of Afro-people, after Nigeria. Brazil abolished the slave trade in 1888, making it the last country in the Americas. It is also key to note that over four thousand slaves were brought from Africa to Brazil, the largest number of slaves brought in any country. The country’s massive engagement in the country has left deep scars.

The structural and institutional segregation in Brazil has necessitated racism ever since. Djamila Ribeiro, author, and activist attributes the segregation to the Brazilian state’s failure to come up with a form of public policy to integrate the blacks into society.

Activists have said that Brazilians have been made to believe in a myth that they live in racial democracy. Ribiero says Brazilians term “racial issues” as “class issues,” making them turn a blind eye to the racial injustices.


Black Killings

Most black killings in Brazil were reported to be done by the police. The number of people killed by Brazilian police was six times more than in the US in the previous year, and most of them were black.

Ilona Szabo, executive director of the Igarapé Institute, a Rio-based security think tank, in July 2020 that a criminal stereotype had been placed on the blacks in Brazil.

“The stereotype of the criminals, in general, is that they are black men. So when you are in a very violent society like Brazil, being faced with a black criminal might lead to the excessive use of force by the police because that’s the portrayal we accept. But I would say there is a part of society that supports this openly,” he said.

Black Consciousness Day

Alberto’s killing came on the eve of the Black Consciousness Day, a state of Rio Grande law instituted in 1987 and made a public holiday. The event, with time, spread to other Brazilian states.

The holiday was further rooted in Brazilian states in 1995, during the 300th anniversary of the death of African freedom fighter Zumbi dos Palmares, the last King of Palmares, a region in Brazil that was multiracial and people were free. Zumbi, born in 1655, fought off Portuguese occupation until when they beheaded him on November 20, 1695.

In 2003, Black Consciousness Day was instituted in the school calendar alongside a federal that made Afro-Brazilian and African history be taught in school.

The holiday was then officially instituted in the Brazilian government and has since been used as “a day to reaffirm the demands of black people” and as a commemoration of Zumi.

Alberto’s Burial

Alberto was laid to rest in a coffin enveloped with the flag of his favorite football team hailing from Port Alegre city.

He leaves behind four children and their mother, who she had planned to marry in a few days.


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