Black Brazilians protest against racism and police violence

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© Reuters. Activists of the Black Movement protest against racism and police violence on the day, 133 years after the abolition of slavery in the country, in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 13, 2021. REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino TPX PICTURES OF THE DAY

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Black Brazilians demonstrated in the country’s two largest cities on Thursday to protest against racism and police violence against their communities in a local version of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. Some accused the country’s president of genocide.

They also protested the so-called “false” anniversary of the abolition of slavery, which was officially marked for the day in 1888 when the Brazilian monarch’s daughter, Princess Isabel, signed the law to free slaves.

Black Brazilians celebrate the end of slavery on November 20th, the anniversary of the murder of Zumbi, a figure in the resistance to slavery and the last leader of a runaway slave community called Palmares.

Around 1,000 people marched through downtown Rio de Janeiro with candles and signs that evening saying: “Don’t kill me, kill racism” and accused right-wing extremist President Jair Bolsonaro of genocide by police violence.

Other signs have revealed the deaths of 28 people in a slum called Jacarezinho on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro a week ago during an operation that police said was targeting drug traffickers.

Human rights activists accused the police of “extrajudicial murders” and said many of the dead were not investigated. A Supreme Court judge said he saw signs of “arbitrary execution” during the raid on Jacarezinho.

In São Paulo, a similar number of demonstrators crowded a main street to fight back against racism and police violence.

“We mark the date of the false abolition of slavery and the tragedy in Jacarezinho in which the police ambushed 28 people to kill them in cold blood,” said João de Oliveira.

“President Bolsonaro and his vice-president even applauded the slaughter. He committed genocide. We are here to protest.”

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