Thursday, September 15, 2016

Brazil Photojournalists Protest Police Violence

SAO PAULO – Press photographers and videographers gathered in Sao Paulo on Wednesday to denounce police violence directed at media workers covering protests against the right-wing government of Brazil’s new president, Michel Temer.

Rio de Paz, a human rights NGO, organized the demonstration outside the Sao Paulo Museum of Art, located on the main thoroughfare of Brazil’s largest city.

Several of the participants held up a banner reading: “Free press: No to violence.”

“For being press and being with a camera in hand, one is a target for the police. And for being black one is a double-target,” free-lance photographer Vinicius Gomes told EFE.

“It was not by chance that they picked me from among five photographers who were there, to beat me and throw my camera on the ground,” he said. “They picked me for being a shaggy black guy who would not cause problems if he was beaten.”

Many of those present wore eye patches in tribute to photographer Sergio Silva, who lost his sight due to an injury suffered while covering a protest in 2013.

Police repression has grown worse since then, Gomes said, adding: “I only go to protests with a helmet and protective glasses.”

The media workers at Wednesday’s event demanded investigations of incidents such as a Sept. 4 police assault on a BBC journalist during a protest in Sao Paulo’s Pinheiros neighborhood.

In another case, a rubber bullet fired by police struck an EFE photographer, destroying the PC in his backpack.

Protests have intensified in Brazil since the Aug. 31 Senate vote to oust twice-elected President Dilma Rousseff over alleged budget irregularities, paving the way for erstwhile Vice President Temer to become head of state.

Last week, the office of the national ombudsman announced plans to monitor police conduct during demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

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