Monday, January 23, 2012

Riot cops with tear gas & rubber bullets used to evict slum residents

The 9,000 residents (including 3,000 children) of Pinheirinho slum in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil (NE of Sao Paulo) resisted eviction (& home-lessness) in city, state & federal courts; with several protests which were attacked by truncheon-wielding cops; & with self-defense squads. Pinheirinho was settled 8 years ago on land abandoned for 30 years by the owner who had a tax debt of over $15 million to the city. The landowner--probably in league with developers on the prowl--went to court to obtain an eviction order. Despite a federal court injunction against the eviction, water, electricity & telephones were cut to the area & on Sunday morning (Jan. 22), the residents were caught off guard when 2,000 riot cops attacked with rubber bullets & tear gas. A leader of the residents was beaten, taken to the hospital, & then sent to jail. Eighteen other people were arrested during the eviction & many were injured, including children. People in surrounding neighborhoods, outraged by the police violence, threw stones at the cops & tried to tear down tents set up to relocate residents of Pinheirinho. These are not the first forced & violent evictions of residents from abandoned properties in Brazil. In Carajas, in 1996, 22 rural workers were murdered by military police & in Goiania, in 2005, the police used death threats, violence, & arrests to evict residents. Brazilian TV, loyal apologist for the dispossession, claimed Pinheirinho was a Cracolandia (crack cocaine territory) & media here is reporting residents set fire to their own homes. Let’s get real! The drug addicted don’t usually put up such a fierce & intelligent resistance to injustice.

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