Death of man beaten by Carrefour security guards sparks Brazil protests


The funeral of a black man who died while being beaten by supermarket security guards has been held following protests that echoed those of the racial justice movement in the United States.

Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, a father of four, was buried wearing a white T-shirt in a coffin draped with the flag of his favourite football team in the city of Porto Alegre.

“I just want justice,” his partner, Milena Borges Alves, told Globo news.

“That’s all. I just want them to pay for what they did to him.”

Relatives and friends of Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, who died after being beaten by white security agents in a supermarket belonging to the Carrefour group, attend his funeral in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on November 21, 2020
Mr Freitas was buried in a coffin draped with the flag of his favourite football team

On Friday, demonstrators painted “Black lives matter” on the pavement of Paulista Avenue, one of the most famous in Sao Paulo, following a series of protests across the country, many of them at branches of the Carrefour supermarket chain.

Military police used pepper spray to disperse crowds outside a supermarket in the northeastern city of Recife.

The outrage was fed by a widely circulated video showing one guard restraining Mr Freitas as another hit him repeatedly in the face.

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Another clip later showed a guard kneeling on his back in the car park of the store in Porto Alegre on Thursday.

Both of the guards have been detained and face possible homicide charges, according to police authorities.

The France-based CEO of the Carrefour supermarket group, Alexandre Bompard, said on Twitter the images were “unbearable” and vowed to go beyond the “insufficient” steps already taken by the company’s Brazil branch.

Demonstrators start a fire during a protest at the entrance of a Carrefour supermaket where Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas was beaten to death, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, on November 20, 2020
Demonstrators start a fire during a protest at the entrance of a Carrefour supermarket where he died

“My values and the values of Carrefour are not compatible with racism and violence,” he said.

Carrefour earlier said it would end its contract with the security company and fire the store manager who was on duty.

Black and mixed-race people account for about 57% of Brazil’s population but constitute 74% of victims of lethal violence, according to the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, a nongovernmental organisation.

The percentage is even higher, 79%, for those killed by police.

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