RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Black man died after being beaten by supermarket security guards in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre on the eve of Friday's Black Consciousness Day observations, sparking outrage as videos of the incident circulated on social media.
A short clip showed one guard restraining João Alberto Silveira Freitas just outside the doors of a Carrefour supermarket while the other pummeled him with repeated blows to the face. A store employee stood to the side filming.
Carrefour released a statement lamenting Freitas' “brutal death,” and said it will “adopt the appropriate measures to hold the people responsible for this criminal act.” It also said it will end its contract with the security company, fire the store manager who was on duty and shutter the store out of respect for the victim.
Eduardo Leite, the governor of Rio Grande do Sul state, where Porto Alegre is capital, posted a video to Twitter showing him alongside the head of the state’s civil and military police forces and promising the incident is being investigated and that the people involved had been detained.
He also highlighted recent state policies enacted to combat racial intolerance.
“Unfortunately, on this day in which we should be celebrating those public policies, we come across scenes that leaves us all indignant due to the excessive violence that caused the death of a Black citizen at the supermarket,” he said.
Black Consciousness Day is observed as a holiday in many parts of Brazil, where Black and mixed-race people account for about 57% of the population but constitute 74% of victims of lethal violence, according to the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, a nongovernmental organization.
Local online news site G1 reported that the incident followed a confrontation between Freitas and a supermarket employee, who then called security. Both guards were white, G1 reported.
One of the men who beat Freitas was a temporary military police officer who was off-duty, Rodrigo Mohr, head of the state's military police, said in the video beside the governor.
The French supermarket chain has caused controversy before in Brazil.
In August, a man died within a Carrefour in northeastern city Recife; his body was covered by umbrellas and the supermarket continued operating for several hours. Carrefour apologized in a statement and said it was changing its protocols to close locations when deaths occur.
In 2018, a security guard at a Carrefour in Sao Paulo state beat a stray dog to death with a metal bar. The dog had been well known in the area, and Carrefour agreed to pay 1 million reais ($188,000) to a fund for the protection of animals.