Brazillian Protester and Pepper-Spray Victim Sheds Light on Police Brutality
4:30 pm, June 21st | by Grace Rasmus
Protests in Brazil that started last Thursday over a $0.09USD hike in bus fare have quickly snowballed into an anti-government cry for change. Over a week later, tension and violence are now at an all-time high and an image of a woman being sprayed with pepper spray by Brazilian police has gone viral. (Hmm, doesn’t this sound familiar?)
The photographer who captured the moment, Victor Caivano, told Daily Intelligencer that the photo was taken when “the protest was over, riots included.” A wider version of the photo shows how completely isolated the woman was when she was sprayed.
According to Caivano, three riot officers approached the woman and told her to leave the area. When she objected — as Caivano recalled, the woman either questioned the order or insisted that she wasn’t doing anything wrong — she was pepper-sprayed. “This policeman just didn’t think twice,” he said.
The woman’s identity had been unknown until Wednesday when she identified herself on Facebook as Liv Nicolsky Lagerblad de Oliveira, a 23-year-old student.
Oliveira wrote that “the police are violent and cruel” and detained people “that were absolutely not vandals,” such as “a little girl” who was “arrested for carrying an object that she found in the street,” according to a New York translation of the post.
Oliveira said her face has become too well-known, and her attorney has advised her to lay low. But she encourages others to return to the streets. “I ask all those that can go, to go,” she says. “I will fight from here with whatever weapons are at my disposal.”
Danieli Moreira, a 33-year-old English teacher in São Paulo, told Forbes that the protests have gotten out of control. While she participated in the original bus fare protests, Moreira feels that the current riots have no direction.
“Two days ago they had a clear goal: reduce bus fares,” she said. “But now that most cities announced the reductions, they don’t have an agenda. They want vague stuff like ‘no corruption’ or ‘better health’, but there are no leaders to unite them.”
Moreira added that although she wants to continue to support her fellow Brazilians, she fears for her safety. “I may [return to the streets] if they go back to the original cause. Not just because I support the cause, but because I’d find friends there and feel safer,” she said. “I want to go back, but I’m afraid to go out.”