POLICE BRUTALITY

Candidate for State House assaulted by Municipal Guard in Curitiba, Brazil

Renato Freitas had been brutally arrested in 2016 and testified against officers last week; case could be retaliation

Renato Freitas, 34, a criminal lawyer and candidate for State House, was assaulted by Municipal Guard officers / Handout

A candidate for state representative in Paraná, southern Brazil, for the Workers’ Party, a criminal lawyer and a holder of a master’s degree from the Federal University of Paraná, Renato Freitas was brutally assaulted by the Municipal Guard (GM) of Curitiba, capital of the state, on Sunday evening.

According to his press office, Freitas was approached by the GM when he was handing over campaign leaflets at the city center. The officers assaulted and surrounded the candidate, shooting him twice with rubber bullets, in the hand and in the back.

The news broke when Freitas live-streamed on Facebook his drive to the hospital, where his family, friends, lawyers, and campaign committee were blocked by GM officers and could not see or hear from the candidate. After two hours, his mother, sister, and lawyer were finally allowed to see Freitas – he was hurt, but his injuries were not life threatening.

“Renato was also taken into custody in 2016 after a brutal action [by law enforcement] and that led the city government to investigate the Municipal Guard. Last Thursday, Renato had to testify against the GM as part of that investigation. He was reluctant to do it, fearing a retaliation like this one. But because the process would be dismissed [if he didn’t testify] and that would be a great injustice, he did it. Then he toured around the state to campaign, and when he came back, this happened [the attack],” his lawyer Maria Fernanda said.

After he was discharged from the hospital, in the early hours of Monday, Freitas was taken to a police station, where he was charged of contempt of cop, resisting arrest, and defamation, and then released.

City government

The Curitiba city government released a statement arguing that the Municipal Guard was called at 7 p.m. on Sunday by residents who reported there was an illegal street race taking place in the surroundings, where people were allegedly taking drugs and engaging in disorderly conduct.

“The Municipal Guard responded to the call and had to use non-lethal weapons (with rubber bullets) to contain the group and reestablish order. Renato Almeida Freitas Junior, who is a candidate for state representative, was part of the group, made a move against the six municipal guards, and ended up being injured,” the statement reads.

Freitas, however, says he was only handing over leaflets and there was no incident that could justify the GM action.

“Everyone who was there said this attack [by the GM] came out of nowhere, that there was no reason for it. No one was coming at the police, there was nothing happening to explain their approach,” Maria Fernanda said.

His lawyers said the candidate was not even in the area when the alleged car race took place, as he was coming back from a nearby city at 7 p.m. His defense is pressuring the city government to release security camera footage.

More incidents

Another candidate for state representative, Edna Dantas, who is a black activist from the outskirts, was taken into custody during Brazil’s Independence Day Parade in downtown Curitiba.

Dantas was arrested next to two other activists who hold the Marisa Letícia camp. According to reports, they were passing by the parade wearing shirts to support former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and chanting “Free Lula.”

Edition: Laís Melo