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Brazilians protest after grocery store security guards kill Black man

By Shannon Sims and Aline Oyamada, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Street protests swept across Brazil and shops were looted after a video went viral showing grocery store security guards beating a Black man to death.

Two Carrefour outsourced employees were filmed killing the 40-year-old man in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre on Thursday. The man, who was shopping with his wife, had a disagreement with employees at the checkout, local media reported. The guards were white, according to the reports.

By Friday, which happened to be Black Consciousness Day in Brazil, about 2,500 protesters had gathered in front of the Carrefour store. There were also protests in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, to object to the killing and — more broadly — to the country's racism. Some protesters carried banners that read "Black Lives Matter" in Portuguese.

The protests forced the chain in Rio de Janeiro to close and resulted in police launching tear gas in Porto Alegre. On Friday, Carrefour said it would terminate a contract with the firm that provided the security guards, local media reported. In an emailed statement, the company said it would donate Friday's sales revenues to entities that fight for Black consciousness.

Alexandre Bompard, Carrefour's French chief executive officer, expressed his condolences in a series of tweets in Portuguese and said the images posted on social media were "unacceptable."

"Internal measures have immediately been implemented by the Carrefour Group Brazil, principally on the question of security company contracts. These measures are insufficient. My values, and the values of Carrefour, do not allow for racism and violence," he wrote, calling for a complete review of employee training, diversity and intolerance.

Brazilian retail mogul Abilio Diniz, a Carrefour shareholder, called the Black man's death a "brutality" and urged the company to work with authorities investigating the case.

 

President Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday at the G-20 summit that Brazil is a diverse nation but that some want to "destroy it" by fueling race division "under the pretext of a fight for equality." On late Friday, he tweeted about the country's violence and conflicts, but didn't acknowledge the man's death or address racism.

"There's no use in dividing the people's suffering by groups," he said on a tweet, adding that the country has problems that "go beyond racial issues." Earlier, Vice-President Hamilton Mourao told journalists "there's no racism in Brazil."

The grocery chain has been a source of unrest in Brazil in the past. In 2018, security killed a dog at a store in Sao Paulo state, drawing protesters to the location. And in August this year, after a salesman suffered a heart attack and died, store employees covered his body with umbrellas and left the supermarket open for business.

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With assistance by Kenneth Wong and Samy Adghirni

(c)2020 Bloomberg News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC