Photo: Hundreds protest the police murder of 8-year-old Agatha Felix in Rio de Janeiro
By Jakob Stein
The night of August 20, the Military Police (PM) shot and killed 8-year-old Agatha Felix in the Fazendinha slum, in Complexo do Alemão, north zone of Rio de Janeiro. She was shot while riding in a van with her grandmother on her way home by a member of the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP), a special type of police first started in the favelas of Rio designed to “reclaim” areas with heavy gang presence.
Originally the PM claimed that they were firing on a suspect on a motorcycle, then later the press office of the PM in Rio claimed that Agatha was killed when supposed “traffickers” allegedly attacked the UPP. Eyewitnesses reject this account.
That next morning a demonstration of around 300 was held in Complexo do Alemão, against the genocidal actions of the PM and Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel. The action shut down a major road that leads into the complex and was attended by community members and the families of multiple people killed by the PM, including mototaxi driver Wellens dos Santos who was murdered earlier that week.
“We are outraged. This government only comes in here to kill,” one resident commented. “It is no use investing in ‘caveirão’ (armored police vehicles) if education is precarious. It is no use investing in helicopters if health is bad. I repudiate the cowardice of the PM Secretariat!”
The following day, at Agatha’s funeral, 500 people marched from the emergency room in Complexo de Alemão to the Inhaúma cemetery. The march was characterized by a marked anti-police attitude, with hitting and kicking of a UPP car as it drove by. Protesters carried a banner reading, “Witzel killer and terrorist!” and chanted slogans like, “No more slaughter, no killer police,” “No killer Witzel,” and “It’s not over, it has to end, I want the end of the military police.”
The day after Agatha’s funeral, hundreds more protested her murder in front of the Rio de Janeiro State Legislative Assembly in the city center. Popular movements including Popular Revolutionary Student Movement (MEPR), the Red Unit – Revolutionary Youth League (UV-LJR), the Class Movement of Education Workers (Moclate), and the Brazilian Center for the Solidarity of Peoples (Cebraspo), who raised a banner reading, “Down [with] the state murders against poor youth!” The demonstrators denounced Witzel’s genocidal campaign against the poor youth and especially black youth.
Agatha’s murder was not the first shooting of a child by police in Brazil, at this point there have been at least 17 in 2019 under fascist President Jair Bolsonaro. 12-year-old Kauê Ribeiro dos Santos was murdered by the PM in a similar fashion on his way home from school. Only four days after Agatha’s murder, 11-year-old Victoria C. was shot in the leg on her way home from school. Under Witzel’s tenure, beginning in January 2019, the policy of extermination in the slums has left 1,249 dead so far.
As unemployment continues to worsen, the state has no answer for the people but repression, and is continually turning the favelas into war zones, creating paramilitaries in their struggle against gangs. The masses, especially the poor youth of the favelas, are fighting for a new world and future, one without a military occupation of their neighborhoods and are becoming more combative with each passing day.