At least seven people were killed Saturday in a confrontation with police in the favela Rocinha in militarized Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. According to the police the shootout began after their patrol car was attacked but victims' families contradict the official version.
The police claims they were ambushed by drug dealers, but favela residents say the seven people were massacred. On neighbor told local newspaper O Globo that they had just finished a dance “and the boys were talking, when all of the sudden the police came out of a tunnel, got out of their car and started shooting.
The boys got scared and started running. Everyday, they hit them because they say they are outlaws. They don’t look into it, they don’t ask for papers.”
The father of one of the victims said “the police arrived shooting at everyone who was at the funk dance. Not satisfied with that, they attacked the neighbors who came out… My son was innocent, he had no relation to drug dealing. There must be justice.” Matheus da Silva, only 19 years old, was killed by several gun wounds in his back.
Julio Morais, 23 years old, was also among the victims. A family member said: “He was working in a restaurant since last year. He was leaving home when a friend called me to tell me he was shot down… He was a worker, not a criminal.”
The entire state of Rio de Janeiro has been under military intervention since Michel Temer’s government ordered the militarization of Rio in mid-February to combat violence. Since then, two left-wing politicians have been murdered, including councilwoman and activist Marielle Franco who was vocal against the militarization of Rio, and state violence that affects Black and impoverished youths disproportionately.
Franco was murdered with bullets bought by Brazil's Federal Police. Meanwhile, in the last six months 50 people have been murdered in Rocinha, Rio’s biggest favela.