Police in Brazil killed more people in the first 6 months than whole of last year, despite Covid-19 lockdowns


At least 3,148 people were killed by police in the first half of this year across the country. The number is 7% higher than the one registered in the same period of last year, when 2,934 deaths were counted. The data is part of a survey by the G1 based on official data from 25 states and the Federal District – the state of Goiás is the only state which refuses to pass the data.

Cases of “confrontations with civilians or unnatural injuries with intentionality” involving active police were requested. The requests were made to the Public Security Departments of the states through the Access to Information Act and the press offices.

The rise in the number of people killed by policemen correlates to increasing uprisings and popular mobilization recorded in the first half of this year. What draws attention is that the increase in death rates continued despite the Covid-19 pandemic, when the government was expected to take every measure to protect people from death.

Worrying numbers

According to Dennis Pacheco and Samira Bueno from FBSP, the numbers of the survey are worrying. “Contrary to the expectations created by the reduction in lethal violence seen in previous years, Brazil has not been able to turn this into a trend of a virtuous cycle,” the Public Safety officials said.

“Even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in measures of social isolation in almost the entire country and the fall of crimes against property, the lethal violence grew still, in evidence of the inability of our authorities to implement a national policy of public security that is capable of preserving the lives of all and every citizen.”

Renato Alves and Fernando Salla, of NEV-USP, highlight that it is important to note that police lethality not only gives rise to the deaths of civilians, but that these deaths are always caused because of disproportionate power to police.

“The logic behind it is war, where the framework of democratic controls and the limits imposed by laws do not fit. The narrative presented by the police is that the enemy (criminal/suspect) is always well-armed and faces the police with firepower and risk for the policemen,” they say.

This is a narrow line followed by Brazilian state where the influence of authoritarian regimes thought the history of the country was most recently seen from 1964 until 1988. Till today, the military police institution is still on the streets, referring to an entire race as the “thugs” of society and the enemies of the nation. Usually these “enemies” are the black and poor people living in the communities of Brazil which is ruled by the white elite.

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