Demonstrators vandalize a police vehicle during a protest against racism, after Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas was beaten to death by security guards at a Carrefour supermarket in Porto Alegre
Demonstrators vandalize a police vehicle during a protest against racism, after Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas was beaten to death by security guards at a Carrefour supermarket in Porto Alegre, Brazil, November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Diego Vara
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Violence Erupts in Brazil After Black Man Was Beaten To Death at Carrefour Store

On Friday, more than 1,000 protesters stormed a Carrefour Brasil supermarket in Porto Alegre, a southern Brazilian city, after security guards beat a Black man at the store to death.

The shooting, which triggered demonstrations in Brazil, occurred late on Thursday when a store employee called security after the man tried to assault her, GloboNews cable news channel reported, quoting the state military police of Rio Grande do Sul.

Social media also released amateur videos of the deadly beating and tributes to the black victim. In the local media, his father named him as 40-year-old Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas.

The G1 news website later confirmed that an early study by the state forensics institute found that asphyxiation could be the cause of death.

The local unit of France’s Carrefour SA said in a statement on Friday that it strongly regretted what it considered a brutal death and that it had quickly taken action to ensure that those responsible were legally prosecuted.

It claimed that it will cancel the deal with the security company, fire at the time of the incident the employee in charge of the shop, and close the store as a show of respect.

The Chairman and CEO of Carrefour, Alexandre Bompard, said in a series of tweets in Portuguese on Friday night that the images shared on social media were ‘unbearable.’

“Internal measures have immediately been implemented by the Carrefour Brazil, notably towards the security company involved. These measures do not go far enough. My values and the values of Carrefour do not allow for racism and violence,” Bompard said.

He called for a thorough review of the training of workers and subcontractors on the concepts of protection, diversity, and tolerance. I have asked the Carrefour Brazil teams to collaborate entirely with the judiciary to get to the bottom of this hateful conduct,” he added.”

Protesters in Porto Alegre gave out stickers showing the Carrefour emblem painted with blood on Friday afternoon and called for a boycott of the store. In Portuguese, they put up a banner reading “Black Lives Matter” and posters asking for revenge for Beto, the victim’s nickname.

On Friday evening, the rally turned violent when the protesters shattered glass and delivery vehicles in the parking area of the store.

Dozens of demonstrators shattered the front windows of the Carrefour store in Sao Paulo with bricks, ripped the front doors off, and stormed the building, scattering merchandise into the aisles until they fled.

“Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, wrote in a tweet, “The culture of hatred and racism needs to be combated at its source and the full weight of the law should be used to punish those who spread hate and racism.

About 200 chanting protestors gathered outside another Carrefour store in Rio de Janeiro.

In several parts of Brazil, Nov. 20 is celebrated as Black Awareness Day. Brazilians tend to think of their country as a harmonious “racial democracy,” and the existence of bigotry is disputed by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Yet the presence of slavery, which was abolished in 1899, remains visible. According to government statistics from 2019, black Brazilians are about three times as likely to be victims of murder.

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