WITNESS Ally Among 200 Arrested Protesters in Rio de Janeiro: Please Take Action
Posted on October 17, 2013 by Priscila Néri
Photo above was shared by Linhas de Fuga
UPDATE: The remaining 60 activists detained were released within a week of this blog post. Victor Ribeiro was one of several detained through late October 2013 when he was finally released as well. On May 19, 2014 he was absolved of all charges.
Roughly 200 people were arrested by police in Rio Tuesday after protests brought thousands to the streets in support of public school teachers striking for better work conditions. According to local reports, this is the greatest number of arrests in one day since the ongoing protests first erupted in June, with many of those arrests having been carried out arbitrarily, randomly and with extreme violence, lack of proper procedures, and the absence of proof or adequate justifications.
WITNESS friend and video activist Victor Ribeiro was one of those arrested and is among the 60 who are still detained. His friends and family are requesting help in spreading the call for justice – please take a moment to sign and share this petition demanding the immediate release of those arrested without legal basis.
Here are some images from the night of October 15th:
Video: A Shield and Megaphone During Rio’s Protests
From the start of the protests in Rio, video has played a pivotal role in helping expose abuse against protestors. Videos have:
- caught police officers planting false evidence in protestors’ belongings after arresting them (like this one and this one)
- captured flagrant violations (like uniformed officers without proper identification or officers explicitly threatening protestors with violence)
- helped exonerate protestors of false charges of violence by proving some cases in which violence was started by undercover officers infiltrated in the protests (see the Bruno case for a good example)
- recorded crucial evidence of the use of lethal force, with images of bullet casings that counter the police’s denials on the use of these weapons
- captured absurd arrests, like the one of a student arrested for “disrespecting authority” simply for talking back to an officer who screamed sexual advances at her or the arrest of Batman, who refused to take his mask off.
All along, an increasing number of livestreamers have also been broadcasting events in realtime to prove the peaceful nature of most protestors (see this video activist livestreaming his own arrest and warning the officer that his actions were being seen by 500 other people).
Videos have provided such useful examples that the collective of lawyers at Advogados Ativistas has used citizen video to illustrate an ongoing thread of instructional commentary on exactly what the law allows and what it does not (see this example of how they’re using video to educate protestors on their legal and constitutional rights). “The streets are a practical course in law,” says the collective.
Though violence has been a mark of police response to the public protests since June, the crackdown has intensified recently, with authorities desperate to show they are in control of the situation as sponsors of events like the 2014 World Cup reach out to Brazilian president Dilma to express fears of risks to their profits if the protests continue during the games next year.
This crackdown has come not just in the form of increased violence on the streets, but also in the form of heightened digital surveillance of activists, new laws meant to restrict protests and codify dissent as “organized crime”, and an unprecedented wave of direct targeting of people using video to capture the protests.
But activists vow not to bow down, and the spirit of resistance seems to linger despite the violence, as we can see in this video of protestors applauding arrested activists as they’re driven away in a bus: