Violence Workers: Police Torturers and Murderers Reconstruct Brazilian Atrocities

Violence Workers: Police Torturers and Murderers Reconstruct Brazilian Atrocities

Violence Workers: Police Torturers and Murderers Reconstruct Brazilian Atrocities

Violence Workers: Police Torturers and Murderers Reconstruct Brazilian Atrocities

Synopsis

"A groundbreaking work. Its conclusions allow us to understand how state-sponsored violence is a social illness, and how easily moral boundaries can be destroyed. Our lesson is to grasp carefully how the technique of transforming individuals into evildoers is a highly rational exercise of constructed hatred, the isolation of individuals, and the blurring of the border between duty and cruelty."--Maria Pia Lara, editor of "Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives"

"It's rare enough that people study torturers. It's very dangerous fieldwork, demoralizing material to ponder over, and intellectually hazardous to put it together coherently. These authors do better than this: they come back with a book well worth thinking about. Thinking about torture these days is something we do less and less; one can only hope this book will be an antidote to so much thoughtlessness."--Darius Rejali, author of "Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran"

"The volume disturbingly reminds us that the problem of impunity is not just one that concerns the direct torturers and murderers but also all those who are complicit in the system of impunity."--Sir Nigel Rodley, United Nations Commission on Human Rights

Excerpt

In 1991 a videotape of Los Angeles police violently beating Rodney King was broadcast worldwide. This book's Brazilianist author, then teaching on police violence in Latin America at the University of S_Paulo's Center for the Study of Violence, was asked by her students if U. S. police could possibly be as violent as they knew Brazilian police to be. Would there in fact be more excesses if the United States did not have more strict civilian supervision and legal accountability? Did the subsequent exoneration of all the filmed police by a suburban all-white jury, however, raise questions about U. S. police accountability?

The Brazilian students pointed to the more numerous and dramatic police abuses in their own country. Indeed, in late 1992 just outside S_lb /> Paulo City an elite unit of S_Paulo State Militarized Police (Pol_a Militar) stormed Carandiru Prison and gunned down in inmates— most already subdued and on their knees. Even though members of the militarized swat team had summarily executed prisoners under their superior's orders, as of June 2001, no one_neither the unit, nor its members, nor its commander_had been held legally accountable for what is still Brazil's worst prison massacre. Brazil's police, dubbed by Amnesty International the most violent in the Western Hemisphere, continue to mete out violence with impunity.

The violent reality of policing in Brazil was again demonstrated when late one night in July 1993, nine Rio de Janeiro off-duty police and their vigilante associates fired from their cars into a crowd of seventy-two street children sleeping as they always did in front of Rio's Candel_a . . .

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