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Black man beaten to death by Carrefour Brasil store security guards

by Reuters
Sunday, 22 November 2020 02:04 GMT

Demonstrators take a part in a protest in front of a Carrefour supermarket, after Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas was beaten to death by security guards at a Carrefour supermarket, in Brasilia, Brazil, November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

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Carrefour Brasil said it deeply regretted what it called a brutal death and took steps to ensure those responsible were legally punished

(Corrects year in penultimate paragraph to 1888 from 1899)

SAO PAULO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Carrefour Brasil said on Friday it had terminated the contract of the security firm whose employees had beaten to death a Black man at one of its supermarkets in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

Citing the Rio Grande do Sul state military police, Cable news channel G1 said the incident occurred late on Thursday when a store employee called security after the man threatened to attack her.

Amateur footage of the fatal beating and tributes to the Black victim were published on social media. He was identified in local media by his father as 40-year-old Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas.

In a statement Carrefour Brasil, the local unit of France's Carrefour SA, said it deeply regretted what it called a brutal death and said it immediately took steps to ensure those responsible were legally punished.

It said it would terminate the contract with the security firm, fire the employee in charge of the store at the time of the incident, and close the store as a mark of respect.

The military police said in a statement it "reaffirms its commitment to defending fundamental rights, and its vehement rejection of all acts of violence, discrimination and racism."

The statement also said one of the security guards involved in the attack was an off-duty military policeman.

A Reuters photographer saw Black city council members protesting outside the supermarket, and a larger anti-racism demonstration was planned there for later on Friday, a Black Consciousness holiday in several cities across Brazil.

Brazilians like to think of their country as a racial democracy and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro denies the presence of racism. But the influence of slavery abolished in 1888 is still evident.

Black Brazilians make up 64% of the country's unemployed, die younger and are almost three times as likely to be victims of homicide, according to 2019 government data. (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr, Jamie McGeever and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Howard Goller)