Interview with dona Adriana, mother of Rafael Braga
Rafael is a young poor Black man that until June 2013 used to work picking up material for recycling on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Downtown. He used to sleep on the streets and only sometimes go back home, in favela Vila Cruzeiro, so that he would save up the transportation money. However, on June 20th, his routine changed.
On that day, the biggest of the demonstrations that were happening at the time against the raise of the bus fare took place. In the end of the demonstration, at Lapa, Rafael, at the time 25 years old, was arrested when he was arriving in an abandoned house where he used to sleep sometimes. He didn’t participate in the demonstration and was carrying two plastic bottles, one with bleach and one with disinfectant. At the police station, the cops that arrested him presented the bottles opened and with clothes. He was charged for carrying explosive material that would be Molotov cocktails. He was sentenced to 5 years and 2 months. On December 1st, 2015, he got out of jail on probation with an ankle monitor.
Back to Cascatinha, Vila Cruzeiro, with his family, on January 12th2016, he went to buy breakfast in the morning as asked by Dona Adriana, his mother, and on the way he was stopped by the cops. They said that he was involved with drug dealers and were demanding information and that he said that he was a criminal. He was beat up on the way of the police station. The cops also threatened to rape him if he didn’t assumed participation on drug trafficking. The cops forged a flagrant kit with 0.6g of marijuana, 9.3g of cocaine and a firecracker. So, since January 2016, Rafael Braga faces charges of drug trafficking and trafficking association.
During the audiences, the defense lawyers demanded some diligences that could help to understand what happened that day. Things like the images of the camera of the police car, images of the camera of the police station, the GPS information of the ankle monitor, the GPS information of the police car. The judge denied the access of all this information.
One of the main issue raised by the Campaign is the motivation behind the arrest of Rafael Braga. He was arrested and condemned in 2013 even without being a protester. He was arrested because he is Black and poor. Because he is not an activist, no mobilizations were made at the time and he was tried and condemned very quickly. Even after his sentencing, the mobilization around his case never achieved the level of the mobilizations around the case of other arrests of militants in 2013 and 2014. Rafael is a symbol of the penal selectivity and structural racism of the justice system of Brazil. The most recent arrest reinforces this point of view. Living in a militarized area, Rafael was stopped and charged of drug trafficking. The flagrant kit forged by the cops is often used by the police in favelas. The war on Blacks camouflaged of war on drugs keeps on making new victims every day, exterminating Black people and sustaining mass incarceration.
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