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Police violence against Black women in Brazil caught on camera

Yesterday around the United States, people took part in direct actions to reclaim Martin Luther King’s legacy from the sanitized celebration that MLK Day has become, and remind our country that Black lives matter. After closing out 2014 — a year filled with a devastating loss of Black life and an inspiring swell to fight police violence — this feels like a beautiful way to kick off the racial justice movement in 2015. 

It was also an important reminder that MLK’s work is only beginning, here in the US and abroad. The legacy of slavery, colonialism, and white supremacy runs deep throughout our global systems of “democracy.” Just a few days before we took to the streets for Black American lives, a Black woman protesting bus fair hikes in Brazil was beaten by military police. The abuse was caught on camera, and in this video the woman can be heard screaming “He broke my arm!” over and over again.

In another recently released video, we can see military policemen open fire on a car, killing passenger Haíssa Vargas Motta. The murder happened back in August but the police video was only now released. In it, you can hear the officers stating that “nothing justifies” the police opening fire on the vehicle, but in spite of that, no one has been punished for Motta’s murder.

In Brazil, as in many parts of the Americas, Black people are targeted by law enforcement for abuse and violence, and Afro-Brazilians are speaking out for their lives. Soon after the Motta’s death, 50,000 people took to the streets throughout the country in the Second National March Against the Genocide of Black Peoples, protesting the epidemic of police violence. In March, after the brutal murder of Claudia Silva Ferreira by Rio’s military police, the blog Think Olga crowd-sourced hundreds of art pieces dedicated to giving Claudia the dignity in death that she was denied in life.

The people are memorializing each life lost with their voices. It’s only a matter of time before the chorus becomes too loud to ignore.

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Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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