419                               Brazilian responses to violence and new                                                 ...
420Ramos, S.            Introduction                                        and poor neighborhoods of the great urban     ...
421                                                                                                           Ciência & Sa...
422Ramos, S.            entire country, the budget for public safety of       that organizations of the civil society bega...
423                                                                                                            Ciência & S...
424Ramos, S.            es to discuss narcotics traffic, and the objec-      in Rio de Janeiro. The group was created fol-...
425                                                                                                              Ciência &...
426Ramos, S.            time, reducing the prejudice of the police            quickly that they are sharing much more iden...
427                                                                                                          Ciência & Saú...
428Ramos, S.            References            1.   Souza ER, Minayo MCS, Silva CMFP, Reis AC,                   10. Guinda...
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Respostas brasileiras à violência e novas mediações - o caso do grupo cultural agro reggae e a experiência do projeto 'juventude e polícia'


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Respostas brasileiras à violência e novas mediações - o caso do grupo cultural agro reggae e a experiência do projeto 'juventude e polícia'

  1. 1. 419 Brazilian responses to violence and new ARTIGO ARTICLE forms of mediation: the case of the Grupo Cultural AfroReggae and the experience of the project “Youth and the Police” Respostas brasileiras à violência e novas mediações: o caso do Grupo Cultural AfroReggae e a experiência do projeto “Juventude e Polícia”Sílvia Ramos 1 Abstract This article discusses some aspects of Resumo O artigo discute aspectos das respostas the Brazilian response to urban violence, focusing brasileiras à violência urbana, focalizando tanto both official public safety policies and actions of políticas governamentais de segurança pública the civil society. The text identifies the lack of a como ações da sociedade civil. Identifica a inexis- national public safety policy, indicates successful tência de uma política nacional de segurança governmental experiences carried out in some pública, indica experiências governamentais bem- states and municipalities, and concentrates on the sucedidas em estados e municípios e focaliza a atu- actions of the police. Analyzing the responses of ação das polícias. Ao analisar as respostas da so- the civil society, the paper is emphasizing the ciedade civil, destaca a experiência da campanha campaign for disarming the population and the do desarmamento e o papel da mídia. O trabalho role played by the media. It shows the appearance situa o surgimento de grupos de jovens de favelas of groups of young people living in the favelas, or- organizados em torno de experiências culturais ganized in turn of cultural experiences that, in que, em vários aspectos, caracterizam-se como multiple aspects, are characterized as “new medi- “novos mediadores” na sociedade. Esses grupos ators” in society. These groups thematize violence tematizam a violência e procuram construir novos and try to build new stereotypes dissociating them estereótipos que dissociem os jovens de periferia from the image of criminality. The article de- das imagens de criminalidade. O artigo descreve scribes in particular the cases of the Grupo Cul- em particular o caso do Grupo Cultural AfroReg- tural AfroReggae, of Rio de Janeiro, and the pilot gae, do Rio de Janeiro, e a experiência-piloto em experience carried out in collaboration with the batalhões da Polícia Militar de Minas Gerais, o Minas Gerais Military Police, called “Youth and projeto “Juventude e Polícia”. Argumenta-se que o the Police”. The AfroReggae group is a typical ex- Grupo AfroReggae é tipicamente um novo medi- ample of such a “new mediator”, and the initia- ador, e que a iniciativa de realizar um projeto tive of carrying out a work in cooperation with com a polícia abre novas perspectivas no campo1 Centro de Estudos the police opens new perspectives for the tradi- da reduzida tradição participativa de organiza-de Segurança e Cidadania tionally scarce participation of civil organizations ções da sociedade civil na esfera segurança públi-da Universidade CandidoMendes. engaged in public safety in cooperative projects ca e em projetos de cooperação com a polícia.Rua da Assembléia 10, with the police. Palavras-chave Violência, Juventude, Sociedadesala 810, Centro, 20011-901, Key words Violence, Youth, Civil society, Social civil, Movimentos sociais, FavelasRio de Janeiro RJ.sramos@candidomendes. movements, Favelasedu.br
  2. 2. 420Ramos, S. Introduction and poor neighborhoods of the great urban centers2. The Brazilian homicide rates figure among the What public safety policies the country highest in the world. At the core of the prob- used for facing the increasing urban violence? lem – be it as victims, be it as authors of vio- During the more than 20 years since the begin- lence – are the young, especially the poor and ning of the transition process following the black young living in favelas and suburbs. The military dictatorship (1985), the sector that responses of the State and the Brazilian civil made less progress with respect to moderniza- society to the problem of criminality and vio- tion and democratization was the criminal lence are slow and unsatisfactory. In the 90s justice system, in particular the police institu- however, a number of cities witnessed the ap- tions3. Only since the mid-nineties we register pearance of artistic and cultural initiatives led the first systematic efforts for elaborating pub- by young people living in favelas and in the lic safety policies based on a contemporary outskirts of the urban areas. Although hetero- perspective of combining efficiency with hu- geneous and not articulated with one another, man rights. Before that, the greater part of gov- these experiences are becoming increasingly ernments had relegated the issue to the corpo- important through creating cultures of peace rative spheres of the police forces4, 5. During in opposition to the dynamics of urban con- the 80s and part of the 90s, the increase of flicts. lethal violence was kept in silence by a great This article aims to discuss aspects of the part of intellectual sectors, the media and even Brazilian response to urban violence, focusing by nongovernmental organizations. As a mat- governmental public safety policies as well as ter of fact, rare exceptions apart, research cen- actions of the civil society. Among different re- ters for investigating issues related to violence sponses, we will observe the appearance of focused on public safety are very recent cre- groups, which in several aspects are character- ations in the academic and university environ- ized as new social “mediators”. Particular refer- ment. ence will be made to the case of the Grupo Cul- The socioeconomic profile of the principal tural AfroReggae of Rio de Janeiro and to a pi- victims of lethal violence and their inability to lot experience carried out in cooperation with exert public pressure explain in part the late the Center for Studies on Safety and Citizen- awakening of governments, the media and the ship (Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cida- Brazilian civil society with regard to the topic dania – CESeC) in battalions of the Minas Ge- public safety and to the need of investing in rais Military Police, the project called “Youth modernization, control and democratization of and the Police”. The AfroReggae group will be the police institutions. Most of the civil and introduced as a typical new mediator and it military police forces in the different States of will be shown that the initiative of carrying out the Federation suffered a degradation process, a cooperative project with the police forces, be- and some of them became violent and ineffi- sides being radically new, opens new perspec- cient. The organized crime centered on drugs tives for a stronger participation of organiza- and arms traffic corrupted wide segments of tions of the civil society in the field of public the police corporations, using mechanisms on safety and for cooperation projects with the different levels, which in some cases reach from police. the very bases up to the leadership6. In some States the violence of the police became a prob- lem for the corporation itself, besides victimiz- The criminal justice system, ing the poor populations that find themselves public safety policies and the police cooped up between the violence of drug-related crime warfare and a violent and corrupt police. The homicide rates due to external causes in In the State of Rio de Janeiro, according to the great urban centers in Brazil figure among data of the Secretariat of Public Safety for the the highest in the continent, a trend verified year 2005, the police was responsible for 14.2% since the 80s and increasingly accentuated in of intentional violent deaths. The “resistance the 90s1. Since 2003, Brazil surpassed the num- reports”, shall say, the registries of deaths re- ber of 50 thousand homicides per year. The sulting from confrontations with the police, victims of intentional lethal violence are main- rose 280% in six years (from 289 in 1999 to ly young black men, and residents of favelas 1,089 in 2005), demonstrating an outstanding
  3. 3. 421 Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 11(2):419-428, 2006increase in lethal violence practiced by the po- and organizations of the civil society in thelice. Like the homicide rates in the city, police elaboration and implantation of public safetyviolence assumes a specific geography as well. policies9. The case of Diadema (SP), where theIt is strongly concentrated in the western zone rates of homicides, robberies and thefts couldand in the suburbs, the poorer neighborhoods be considerably reduced through integratedof the city. In 2003, the police battalions in the police actions, controls in bars and programssuburbs of Rio de Janeiro (3rd, 9th, 16th and directed to the young population is the most22nd Military Police Battalions) killed 501 emblematic one, because through these actionscivilians while the battalions in the southern a stigmatized region of the metropolitan areazone (2nd, 19th, 23rd and 31st) killed 202. The of São Paulo was transformed into a model, to-lack of organizations engaged with civil rights day being copied by many towns and cities inin these areas together with the idea that deaths the country10.of civilians are a “natural” consequence of con- On State government level, although theflicts in favelas may explain these frightening actions for controlling violence continuenumbers in some regions. strongly repressive, some important initiatives The phenomenon of abuse of lethal force for modernizing the police were taken. Theby the police is a serious problem in different most successful is the case of Minas Gerais:States of the Federation. Many police forces do since a few years ago, the Military Police main-not even publish statistical data about deaths tains a cooperation agreement with the Studyoccurred in action. In the States of São Paulo Center for Criminality and Public Safety (Cen-and Minas Gerais, where data are available, tro de Estudos de Criminalidade e Segurançapolicies for reducing lethal police violence are Pública – CRISP) for monitoring criminal ac-being put in practice. In São Paulo, the number tivities. In 2005, the Secretariat for Social De-of deaths occurred in confrontations with the fense created the Institute for Public Safetypolice decreased significantly: from 573 in 2004 Management, in charge of integrating the po-to 300 in 2005 (www.ssp.sp.gov.br). In Minas lice forces and organisms of the criminal jus-Gerais, there was only a small decrease: from tice system (Department of Justice, children’s103 in 2004 to 99 in 2005 (data from the Minas courts, penitentiary system, etc.). Following theGerais Military Police). example of the CompStat of New York (www. The characteristics of the deaths occurred nypd.gov), the commanders responsible for thein these confrontations indicate their dynamics. different areas meet once a month for sharingA detailed study of the “resistance reports” of reports on successful tactics and establishingthe city of Rio de Janeiro focusing the years new goals to be met.1993 to 19967 revealed that the major part of On national level, during the presidentialvictims were young males (15 to 29 years, with election process in 2002, the Workers Partyemphasis to the age group between 20 and 24 (Partido dos Trabalhadores) supported theyears), and that 64% of them were black, com- elaboration of a National Safety Program,pared to the presence of 39% of black people in counting on the cooperation and participationthe population of Rio de Janeiro. The study also of experts from different States. For the firstevidenced that the deaths resulting from police time, the country could count on a programactions were concentrated in the favelas, that al- whose proposal was combining social and pre-most half of the victims had received four or ventive aspects, the police and repressive poli-more shots and that 65% of the dead bodies cies and control and modernization of the po-had received at least one shot in the back or in lice forces.the head, indicating summary executions. The After more than three years since the begin-fact is that, in Rio de Janeiro, police violence is ning of Lula da Silva government however, on-out of the control of the higher commands. To ly a very small part of the proposals were putthe extent “license to kill” was given to the po- into practice, and the National Safety Programlicemen operating in favelas and poor neigh- was virtually abandoned. The National Secre-borhoods, a wide field was opened for corrup- tariat for Public Safety, created during the gov-tion and for the so-called “adjustments” be- ernment of Fernando Henrique, operates todaytween drug dealers and police agents8. with even less resources than under the previ- With regard to safety policies, some impor- ous government. While, in 2005, the Nationaltant experiences were made. Recently, some Fund for Public Safety counted on approxi-municipalities passed to involve researchers mately R$ 170 million for investments in the
  4. 4. 422Ramos, S. entire country, the budget for public safety of that organizations of the civil society began to the Sate of São Paulo alone amounted to R$ 6 elaborate a “safety policy”, that the issue had billion. called the attention of the media and that the A planning and implementation of inte- Statute had been approved by the Congress, grated public safety actions will mainly depend can be considered paradigmatic for the control on the pressure society is able to exert upon the of violence in Brazil. three governmental spheres, making them rec- Here we must emphasize the important role ognize the urgency of the themes violence and the media played in the promotion of public public safety. With only a few exceptions, the safety policies and in the control of the police governmental responses to the phenomenon of forces11. Despite the still remaining problems, violence in the first years of this new century – during the last years the leading newspapers of notwithstanding the political party at stake – the country made deep-reaching modifications still seem to be characterized by their being in their coverage of crime and violence and the slow and poor to respond the present level of stereotype of the “police reporter” was changed violence. The idea of violence being “natural” significantly. In the great newspapers, the re- prevails widely and is favored by the incapacity porters covering crimes and public safety issues of its main victims, the marginalized popula- are no more typical “police reporters” but seek tions, to raise their voices. Despite the impor- increasingly to hear sources other than the po- tant experiences in some States of the Federa- lice in their investigative reports. tion, police institutions that did not make the transition from protection of the State – their role under the military dictatorship – to pro- Young people of favelas tection of the citizens, especially the poor ones, and suburbs: new mediators who many times are dealt with as if they were enemies, still predominate in the country3. In the context of civil responses to violence one There is not one single directive on national recently observes an important mobilization level that could be called a national public safe- process of young people living in favelas and ty policy. suburbs. There appear projects or local pro- grams based on cultural or artistic activities, frequently developed and coordinated by the The Disarmament Statute young people themselves. Examples for these and the role of the media initiatives are the groups Olodum and Timbal- ada, of Salvador, AfroReggae, Nós do Morro, In 2003, the civil society made, among others, Cia. Étnica de Dança and Central Única de an important step towards reducing the deaths Favelas, of Rio de Janeiro, besides hundreds of caused by firearms. Under the leadership of small groups organized around the hip-hop nongovernmental organizations that mobilized culture, in the outskirts of São Paulo, Porto great public manifestations, through articula- Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Brasília and São tions with members of the House of Represen- Luís. tatives engaged with peace policies and sup- These groups express the ideas and per- ported by an important part of the media, the spectives of the young people of the favelas Federal Senate promulgated the Disarmament through different languages such as music, the- Statute, which sets forth a series of provisions ater, dance and cinema. At the same time, they for the control and possession of firearms and seek to produce alternative images to the forbids carrying arms. Thousands of arms were stereotypes of criminality associated with this collected in the course of this unprecedented segment of the society, and try to keep the national campaign in favor of peace (accord- young away from drug-related crime by seduc- ing to the Sou da Paz Institute, 439 thousand ing them with the glamour of the arts, visibility firearms were handed over in 2005). In Octo- and success. In general, these groups and pro- ber 2005, people were asked in a national refer- jects are characterized by four aspects that in- endum if they agreed that the commerce of novate the repertory of principles of the enti- firearms should be prohibited in the entire na- ties engaged with human rights, nongovern- tional territory. The answer of the majority was mental organizations (NGOs) and of the left, “no”. In spite of the negative result of this stage where the initiatives of the Brazilian civil soci- of the implementation of the Statute, the fact ety traditionally take place:
  5. 5. 423 Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 11(2):419-428, 20061) They are market-oriented and, to the con- 4) The texts of their songs, their clothes, thetrary of the traditional NGOs, search for alter- names of their groups (AfroReggae, Ethnicnative sources of income and employment, be- Company, Conscientious Union of the Black,sides trying to professionalize their members Brother Brown, etc.) are pronouncedly anti-and to introduce them to the labor market. In racist and show strong commitment with thethis sense, they are the opposite of the “non- black race. Not necessarily making part of theprofit” culture that characterizes the Brazilian so-called “black movement”, these young peo-NGOs12. Some of these groups operate simul- ple refer in their music and in interviews per-taneously with two juridical bodies, a NGO manently to the fact of being “black” and to liv-(for receiving donations from national and in- ing in favelas. Their negritude and the fact ofternational foundations) and a “production belonging to the periphery are mixed up in ancompany” (for making contracts for shows, interesting formula combining complaint andCDs or films). Although claiming to belong to proud (racial and territorial), many times ex-the field of “social work”, some of these groups pressed in sung and danced explosions of joy,are increasingly seeking to become indepen- as occurs in the groups Olodum, Timbaladadent from international donations, sustaining and AfroReggae. This brings them into an op-themselves as cultural enterprises disputing the posite position to the silence predominating inmarket. traditional cultural expressions like Samba2) They invest strongly in individual careers with respect to racial discrimination, and alsoand life histories, valuing the symbolic field of differs from the traditional protests againstsubjectivity and fostering the formation of racism based on the idea of victimization usedartists and leaders, whose success passes to by the black movement. “Self-esteem” and “at-serve as example. In counteraction to the cre- titude” are the terms in the native language thatation of stereotypes, they seek to create power- best define the new image associated with theful images of young people of the favela who, young black people of the favelas.against all expectations, became filmmakers, Together with the creation of “local NGOs”,stage actors or musicians. In other words, in a phenomenon identified by analysts of thethese groups the media, success and fame are favelas13, these projects and initiatives – het-understood as ingredients of political militan- erogeneous and without a link between eachcy. They use insistently the media and seek for other – are becoming important not only aspartnerships with the great communication poles for the construction of an alternative cul-corporations, appearing not only as artists, but ture to drug traffic, but as “mediators”; in oth-also as leaders talking in the name of the young er words, as translators between the young ofpeople from the favelas. In this sense, they are the favelas and governments, the media, uni-different from the syndicalistic and associative versities and, many times, international actors,model of the left, where the “collective” prevails like foundations and cooperation agencies.over individualistic deviations. They are the bridge connecting a fractured3) They are strongly linked to their territory, world, the city and the favelas. Many times,to the point that frequently the names of the they represent the only point of contact forgroups, the texts of their songs, the T-shirts and those who want to understand what is going onclothes they use make reference to the name of with the young living in the poor neighbor-their community of origin (Vigário Geral, Vidi- hoods of the city.gal, Cidade de Deus, Pelourinho, Candeal, Alto As refers to violence and crime, the greaterVera Cruz, Alto do Pina, etc.). Surprisingly, the part of these groups are maintaining a state ofintense and repeatedly affirmed territorial com- equilibrium, on one hand, denouncing policemitment is not translated into parochialism or violence; and, on the other hand, trying tonationalism. Their “love for the community” keep independent of the despotism of armedgoes hand in hand with open adherence to the factions of drug-related crime. Some of themsigns of globalization (Coca-Cola, Nike, etc.) try to play the role of mediators in the “wars”and the connection between their place and the between different factions of drug-relateduniverse is established through the Internet, crime, and assume openly the mission of “pre-sites and journals. High priority is given to in- venting young people from involving in drugsterchange with other communities (including traffic” 8, 14, 15, but this is not necessarily thewith young people of the middle class) and to rule. The group Nós do Morro (We from thetrips in the country and abroad. Hillside), of Rio de Janeiro, for example, refus-
  6. 6. 424Ramos, S. es to discuss narcotics traffic, and the objec- in Rio de Janeiro. The group was created fol- tives of the group do not involve any commit- lowing the killing of 21 innocent residents of ment with regard to creating alternatives to the favela Vigário Geral in an illegal action of criminal activity (www.nosdomorro.com.br). the police, result of an unsuccessful “agree- Other initiatives show a quite ambiguous po- ment” between members of the police force sition as refers to the “world of crime”. This is and drug dealers, having to do with the usual the case of the hip-hop groups, on one hand weekly bribe. The purpose of the group is to identifying themselves with the “pals” in jail offer cultural and artistic education to young and, on the other hand, complaining about the residents of the favela, to enable them to con- stereotype of criminality being associated with struct their life as citizens, escape from nar- the young black people of the poor neighbor- cotics traffic and underemployment, and act as hoods. multipliers for other young people. The main It must be pointed out that these initiatives activity developed by the group is promotion – identified as new forms of mediation in the of workshops in the fields of percussion, the- responses to violence – are not the only ones ater, circus, capoeira, video and informatics in nor are they necessarily the most efficient for the favelas Vigário Geral, Parada de Lucas, “keeping young people away from drug deal- Cantagalo, Ramos, and Complexo do Alemão. ing”. Numberless religious groups, especially of Since its creation, the group founded a profes- Pentecostal orientation, dedicate themselves sional music band (AfroReggae Band) as well today to converting young people who engaged as eight other groups presenting themselves in in criminal activities. “Football schools” and shows (www.afroreggae.org.br). The AfroReg- sports programs for fighting idleness, discover- gae Band presents itself in great shows in Brazil ing talents and creating professional alterna- and abroad and enjoys visibility in the media, tives are proliferating in favelas and poor appearing frequently on television. The orga- neighborhoods. Countless governmental and nization acquired great experience in working private programs promote cultural activities with children and adolescents of low-income such as dance, circus, music and theater, with families but their language reaches young peo- the intent to offer recreation and to profession- ple of other social classes as well. In parallel to alize adolescents. The specific characteristics of the nongovernmental organization, the Afro- the new mediators are: the groups are led by Reggae Group created a production company the young people of the favelas themselves and making money with shows and public presen- construct a discourse in the first person; they tations and employing young people in the dif- are able to express spells with which the young ferent fields of artistic production. This pro- of the favelas can identify and create models, duction company sustains the actions of the refuting their traditional images; they create nongovernmental organization together with new metaphors based on life histories; they are the resources coming from international dona- able of transiting in the media and in the com- tions (Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, munity, among different social classes and gov- HP Foundation, Avina, and others), national ernments. In other words: they transit between agreements with municipal authorities, min- the local and the universal. istries and State governments, and sponsors However, these young mediators must not (TV Globo, Petrobrás, and others). The Afro- be taken as examples for a contemporaneous Reggae Group is typically a new mediator, spirit in syntony with the values of modernity. seeking to approximate the favela and the mid- Their groups are heterogeneous but predomi- dle class, operating in both directions. With the nantly masculine. The practices and discursive project “Urban Connections”, for example constructions of many of these groups and of (concerts in favelas presenting successful artists the hip-hop culture show evident traits of and groups), the AfroReggae brings musicians misogyny and homophobia8, 16. and famous bands to the favela, at the same time, “introducing” the favela to the artists and guests of the shows (public administrators, The AfroReggae Group professionals from the media, businessmen, in- tellectuals, foreign visitors, etc.). Thus, the The Cultural Group AfroReggae is a non- group uses the dimensions market and com- governmental organization created in 1993, munity, concentrating its efforts to territorial whose basis is the favela called Vigário Geral, and racial affirmation of the favela and con-
  7. 7. 425 Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 11(2):419-428, 2006structing a discourse in the first person in the open manifestation of the AfroReggae Groupname of the young of the peripheries. against the police. In the same year, one of the There are countless risks in a trajectory like founding members of the group was hit by athis: the risk of being co-opted by the State or gunshot in a police operation commanded bythe sponsor groups, of being instrumentalized the BOPE (Battalion for Special Operations ofas “culture in the service of society” and the the Rio de Janeiro Military Police) in the favelarisk of new stereotypes being created, showing Vigário Geral. Almost all young people con-well-behaved black boys, that supposedly “es- nected to AfroReggae have already been subjectcaped from delinquency”, playing percussion to situations of violence, corruption and hu-instruments17, 18. One of the facts that indicate miliation on the part of the police, composingthat the group seems to be aware of some of a vast repertoire of hatred and resentment, athese risks is its refuse to multiply their core copious “antipolice” culture in the group. Incenters for operating on large scale. The group the end of 2002, the coordination of the groupunderstands that its role is not to substitute the very surprisingly contacted the Center forState in generating alternatives for young peo- Studies on Public Safety and Citizenshipple of the lower classes, and declares to be act- (CESeC) of the University Candido Mendes,ing in the symbolic field, by creating and pro- expressing their wish to develop a project withmoting models and pilots16. As refers to their the Police (not against the Police like onemusic, the group avoids the well-behaved style would expect). A project for “cultural invasion”and seeks for solutions of its own. The anthro- of battalions of the police was submitted to thepologist Hermano Vianna (CD Nova cara, www. Ford Foundation and approved immediately.afroreggae.org.br) defines the music of the Negotiations with the Military Police of Rio deAfroReggae band as follows: The afroreggae Janeiro, however, failed after months of at-multi-style is the product of an encounter of tempts, and the proposal could not be put intosome of the most vital manifestations that re- practice in this State. In 2004, AfroReggae andcently appeared in the Brazilian music: mangue the CESeC received an invitation from the De-beat; rap paulistano; samba-reggae baiano; funk partment for Social Defense and the Militarycarioca. Here and there the echoes of Jamaican Police of Minas Gerais for developing the pro-reaggae translated to “Rappa”, of hip-hop trans- ject in the police battalions of the State capital,formed by Planet Hemp, the beat of xaxado and Belo Horizonte.techno or the rhythmic percussion of capoeira Initially this pilot project was developed inand candomblé. four stages, trying to establish a dialogue be- With respect to the factions of drug-related tween the culture of the young and the policecrime that dominate the favelas of Rio de culture, and reducing the distance between theJaneiro, the group seeks for a position of inde- two groups through music and artistic activi-pendence, a fact that allowed them to organize ties. Workshops on percussion, theater, graffiti,shows in communities ruled by different com- dance and shows were organized in two battal-mands, despite of coming from a favela occu- ions of Belo Horizonte. Approximately 70 po-pied by a faction, for more than 25 years in war lice officers from each unit (each battalionwith the faction of the neighbor favela, Parada counts on an effective of about 800 men) par-de Lucas. They may be cultural activists but ticipated in these activities. The instructors ofthey are very concerned with presenting them- the workshops were young members of theselves as mature artists. They know they would AfroReggae group, including the artist whohave to surrender in a highly competitive mar- had been shot by the police in 2002, and theket if they continued as “young people from so- percussionist of the band, who had his tympa-cial projects”. This is why they employ all efforts num perforated in an enforcement of the po-for building themselves as professional artists. lice. The surprising results of the first four weeks (one week per month) illustrated the importance of an original instrument for inte-The Project Youth and the Police grating the police and the young. The impact of the actions in this first stage of the project inIn 2002, the AfroReggae band produced a video the police and in the media showed the feasi-clip for the music “Tô bolado” (a music telling bility of valuing the human, ludic and artisticthe story of the killing in Vigário Geral), show- aspect of police officers – on the example thising successive scenes of police violence in an was done with young people – and, at the same
  8. 8. 426Ramos, S. time, reducing the prejudice of the police quickly that they are sharing much more iden- against the residents of favelas and suburbs. tities that they had suspected. Besides discover- In 2005, the Military Police of Minas Gerais ing their frequently common origin and cul- considered the results of the actions in the first tural proximity, both (the young people from year so positive that it was decided to continue the favela on one side and the police on the the partnership. AfroReggae and CESeC were other) are groups stigmatized by the society invited to give lessons to policemen, who and thus share the experience of being discrim- passed to work permanently with young peo- inated. The two groups, after establishing ties, ple from the favelas of Belo Horizonte, orga- surprised each other and felt protagonists of a nizing workshops on percussion, graffiti, dance, new moment in the eyes of society. basketball and theater. A documentary film, 3) Sound and image are crucial. The idea is to Minas police, was produced under the direction question the image society and the young have of a professional, Estevão Ciavatta. In 2006, the from the police and the image police and soci- government of Minas Gerais signed an agree- ety have from the young black people from the ment with AfroReggae and CESeC for continu- favelas. Police “is image”: the uniform, the ing the project. weapon, the military esthetics, and the charac- In January 2006, after an exhibition of the terized vehicle. On the other hand, AfroReggae documentary at the headquarters of the Mili- “is image”: the artists, the shows, and the im- tary Police of Rio de Janeiro, the Secretary for age of the favela and of the young. All stages of Security of this State recognized the positive ef- the project were filmed, photographed and reg- fects of the proposal in Belo Horizonte and re- istered in audio. Two experiences revealed im- quested its implantation in police battalions in portant: the video workshops and the photo Rio de Janeiro. A first dialogue was established sessions. In these meetings the policemen saw and negotiations are in course for verifying the themselves the way they were seen by the lens feasibility of the project and the format that of the cameraman and discussed the “effects” would fit best into the local reality. these images produced in “the others” (other Among the significant aspects of the expe- policemen and society). Like in a mirror game, rience, in comparison to the traditional forms they reconstructed their self-images, by seeing of building awareness in the police forces themselves being seen. (courses, meetings and lectures on human 4) Coverage by the media is essential. The re- rights), we emphasize the following key ele- ports in the newspapers, in the radio and on ments: television stimulated discussions, laughter and 1) The experience not only mobilized the emotions. After the activities, the instructors good sense but also the hearts, minds and spe- repeatedly sat down in a circle for reading and cially the bodies, in music, theater, graffiti, and discussing the subject under study. All this con- other workshops. One must bear in mind that tributed to creating a new scheme we/they: the traditionally “defensive” position of the “we”, the participants of the project “Youth and corporation hampers most attempts to teach the Police”, and “they”, the society and the me- human rights by means of critical argumenta- dia observing a police officer in a very uncom- tion. mon situation. This we/they quickly substitut- 2) The essence of the intervention is not to ed the first we/they: “we”, the police, “they”, “change the police officer” by teaching him in- AfroReggae. A group of policemen were trained tellectually something he – apparently – does and presented themselves in the beginning of not want to learn or resists to accept, but to 2005 with the AfroReggae band in a television propose new experiences for the police and for program with great audience. After this, the the young, who for the first time enter a police group appeared repeatedly in public. This department. The young instructors with their helped promoting the project, not only in Mi- “attitude” of the young people of the favela are nas Gerais but also in other States. making an experience that mobilizes their 5) In 2005, during the weeks in which the po- stereotype of the police; at the same time, they licemen (after a four weeks training in their are provoking in the policemen the sense of Departments) went into the favelas for offering rhythm and plasticity. The essence lies in the percussion, graffiti, basketball and dancing interchange between the young and the police lessons, the dynamics of amazement-surprise- without mediators (professors of human integration between the two groups became rights). The policemen and the young discover even more intense. One of the techniques used
  9. 9. 427 Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 11(2):419-428, 2006was the “game of the truth”. The young and the institutionalize the project “Youth and the Po-policemen set down in a circle and had very lice” as a regular program.tense conversations about the experiences of On national level, there obviously are stillthe young with the police and the experiences enormous barriers to overcome. The first oneof the police in patrols inside the favelas. The is persuading the commanders of the police toquestions and complaints (the dialogue started recognize that the barriers between young peo-with “What have you always wanted to know ple and the police are something affecting theabout the police”) invariably began with the is- society as a whole. The second is to convincesue of how the police approach the population. them that initiatives in which young people areThe “stop and frisk” is always perceived as hu- given the opportunity to meet in the first per-miliating by the young black from the favelas2. son with police officers through music andAgain, the direct contacts without mediators artistic activities are powerful instruments forseemed to be the formula allowing a new ther- creating a modern and democratic police.apeutic and curative logic of the type “truthand reconciliation” to arise. In these dynamics,the policemen discovered that admitting and Final considerationsrecognizing the existence of the racial, socialand geographic biases in the police practices Given the scarce governmental investment inwas the first step towards communication. the police and the weak participation of orga-Once the “truth” was accepted,“reconciliation” nizations of the civil society in experiences fo-turned possible. The rest was done by the mag- cusing public safety issues, in recent years theic of music and arts. The result of this “peda- groups of young people of the favelas – thema-gogy of the drum” was the creation of new im- tizing urban and police violence and seeking toages and relationships. produce alternative images to the stereotype of Among the problems and limitations of criminality – became a most vital part in thethe project is its difficult replication by other responses to violence. Against all expectationscultural groups in other States. The emotional and prophecies to the contrary (revenge andand symbolic force incorporated by the Afro- hatred against the police corporation), theReggae Group (born out of a killing in a po- AfroReggae Group, created in response to alice action) is responsible for a good part of killing of civilians by the police and a typicalthe impact produced in the first approxima- translator in the relations between the youngtions with the police. The possibility of per- of the favela and the formal city, was able to usemanently mobilizing the media and creating its own history as a symbol for developing a pi-the logic of the mirror, which is essential in oneer cooperation with the police. With thethe project, are also difficult to be reproduced project “Youth and the Police”, they created aby local cultural groups in other States. Final- very specific experience underlining the irre-ly, a problem created by the success of the placeable role of the young of the favelas in theproject and by its visibility in the communi- construction of a new relationship between thecation media is the resistance of important police and society.sectors of the police. Researchers from CESeC Part of the tragic scenario of violence asare evaluating the impacts of the project using principal victims and principal protagonists,focal groups, interviews and surveys. First re- the young people of the favelas will necessarilysults indicate that a considerable part of com- play a decisive role in the efforts towards a re-manders and even simple “cops” think that “it duction of violence. Some of these new groupsis not the role of the police to appear on TV of mediators seem to indicate that creative re-playing the drum” (the results of the evalua- sponses to a field with only small participativetion will be published in 2007). In other tradition of civil entities can work. New effortswords, we are talking about a polemic project, of this kind should not be neglected by thosewhose purpose is precisely to provoke sur- who want to accompany the “ways out” theprise and to transform the traditional images Brazilian society will produce, in the course ofof the police. To the extent these goals are this decade, for facing violence and for con-met, the opposition against these changes structing ways leading to safety, justice and cit-(and the methods used for achieving them) izenship.will grow. In 2006, the command of the policeforce of the capital of Minas Gerais intends to
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