In August 2013, a number of social movements and civil society organization submitted a complaint to the São Paulo State Prosecutor’s Office requesting an investigation into the conduct of Colonel Ben Hur Junqueira, the Military Police commander in the police operation of June 13. On that day, hundreds of people were arrested for verification for carrying vinegar, backpacks, cameras or just for being near the site of the demonstration protesting the price of public transport in São Paulo.
The document requested the Prosecutor’s Office to file criminal charges against Colonel Junqueira given the evidence of illegal acts he committed as commander of the operation. We attached to the document a video recorded by the São Paulo Public Defender’s Office, in which Junqueira clearly admitted to making arrests for verification, an unconstitutional procedure that is blatantly used to restrict the right to protest.
More than 10 months after the demonstration took place, the State Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that a police inquiry will now be opened to investigate the colonel’s conduct, a fairly timid response given the brutal police repression that the entire city witnessed.
The complaint filed by the organizations last year already contained sufficient material evidence of illegal conduct by Junqueira, such as the video recorded by the Public Defender’s Office. In addition to the video, dozens of police reports confirming the arrests for verification were also attached.
As such, we consider it regrettable that the State Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately request the opening of criminal proceedings against the colonel. It is important, with this in mind, to make sure that the investigation examines the facts of the case truthfully. We hope to see not only Junqueira held accountable, but also everyone else who was responsible for the police repression on June 13.
To date, not a single police officer has been held accountable for the abuses committed against the demonstrators during the June protests, in spite of all the police violence. Meanwhile, the investigations, police inquiries and criminal proceedings against demonstrators have been ongoing and have even been intensified. The request for an investigation into a high-ranking military police officer is just one sign that we will not quietly accept the criminalization of social movements by the State.
In another complaint filed in August 2013, the same organizations called on the Federal Prosecutor’s Office to investigate, among other things, who in the São Paulo state government gave the order to arrest demonstrators for verification. An administrative proceeding has been opened in this case, but little progress has been made so far.
Meanwhile, Police Inquiry No. 1/2013, announced to much fanfare by the Public Security Department and by São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, is investigating demonstrators who were arrested without any legal basis, summoning and threatening people for simply taking part in the demonstrations. The difference in the commitment to these investigations clearly demonstrates the bias of the justice system, which ignores the abusive and illegal acts committed by officers with one hand and criminalizes demonstrations with the other, using increasingly more sophisticated mechanisms sponsored by our governments.
Finally, it is crucial to remember that this violent state apparatus is the same one that for years now, and with much more brutality, has been victimizing our youth from poor neighborhoods and pursuing the mass incarceration of poor blacks, leaving in its wake a trail of countless anonymous victims.
Movimento Passe Livre
Mães de Maio
Sindicato dos Advogados de São Paulo
Marcha Mundial das Mulheres
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Associação Cristãos pela Abolição da Tortura
Rede 2 de Outubro
Frente de Esculacho Popular
Ouvidoria Geral da Defensoria Pública
Associaçao dos Servidores da Defensoria Pública do Estado de São Paulo
Instituto Paulista da Juventude
Sindicato dos Advogados do Estado de São Paulo