Bizarre happenings in Rio de Janeiro

My collaborator, Paola Barreto Leblanc writes to me “Something really bizarre happened this week. In a public street in Rio’s center CCTVs from some buildings and a Bank – private circuits – caught a criminal action led by police officers [Policia Militar – PM, or Military Police, in fact]. Instead of helping a victim of an attack they rob the robbers!” The news story is available on youtube:

The thing that adds an extra layer of particularly bleak humour to this nasty event is that the name of the PM officer involved is capitão Bizarro (Captain Bizarre)… however, the really sad fact about the whole incident is that the victim was prominent social justice activist and founder of the internationally-renowned favela music group AfroReggae, Evandro João da Silva. He did a lot more good for the city and for the improvement of the lives of the urban poor than any gang-members or police officers ever did and he will be sorely missed. The PM chief, Mário Sérgio Duarte, who we interviewed back in April, is once again in the papers and on TV, apologizing. I noted at the time that Colonel Duarte seemed ‘profoundly indifferent’ to CCTV – I wonder if he will change his mind now and in what direction…

As Paola also writes to me, the nexus of CCTV in Rio is an intensely confusing one, mixing drug-gangs, corrupt police, the media, who like anywhere else seem to be living off the images from CCTV cameras without much in the way of respect for the victims. We are now starting to work together on a paper on these developments.