Police Massacres in Brazil

Last month, a killing spree in Manaus (the capital of the state of Amazonas) left 35 people dead. As the shock of the sheer total in the city of 1.7 million wore off, the responsible party began to emerge, with evidence pointing to the police as the culprits of the spree of execution-style murders. Nearly a month later, little has been done to apprehend the killers within the police force and bring them to justice.

On Thursday night this past week, in São Paulo, 18 people were murdered, execution style. Once again, as the shock wears off of the sheer number killed in such a style in one night, a familiar actor has emerged: the police, who are again suspected in this spree. The state’s Secretary of Justice, Alexandre de Moraes, has pledged to track down the killers and ensure that they are brought to justice, but given Brazil’s terrible record of police violence and the reigning culture of impunity that rarely brings justice in such cases, I’m not hopeful. It would be nice if the public anger towards Dilma Rousseff and other politicians were also addressed towards police violence, but sadly, it isn’t. Perhaps this time will be different, but given past actions of police violence against civilians that have gone unpunished, and given how military police (who are often involved in such violence) are trained, it just strikes me that there is not much reason to be optimistic here.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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