Police Restrain Students at the University of São Paulo - Brazilian News

Police Restrain Students at the University of São Paulo

By Sthefanny Saldanha and Ricardo Sabadini

Two thousand eleven has been the year of student demonstrations. It has been happening in Egypt, Chile and even here, in Brazil. Divergences on the causes of USP invasion have been noticed by the population – or, at least, they should have been noticed. The common media is using the television, the newspaper, the internet and every means of communication to tell people that the USP invasion is because the students want to use marijuana in the university and do not want the police around so they can feel free do to it. The students and the teachers say that the invasion is because the policemen are using their power to treat people in an abusive way. During this article, we will point these two points of view based on a Brazilian newspaper, Brasil de Fato, and on an English article about the subject found on the website Bloomberg.com.

On October 27th, around 6:00 pm, three students were approached by the military policemen in the parking lot of the Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH), at USP. These students had their documents confiscated and their car was searched because the policemen claimed they were keeping marijuana with them. According to the newspaper BRASIL DE FATO, this was not the first time the PM entered the campus to quell the students. The following was written on the newspaper’s web page:

It is a further demonstration of the policy of repression that has been imposed by the University Rector, John Grandino Rodas, investigated for corruption by prosecutors. The rector, who was not elected by the university community, has a broad form of repression of students and social movements.

While the Brazilian newspaper reported the situation in the students’ perspective,  Boomerang.com used a tone of distance trying to convince the reader that the police force in the campus was necessary due to the crimes that were happening at the University:

The police had originally been brought to the leafy site in September, after a student was murdered during an armed robbery. Another was shot during a robbery in October. Violence flared last month after police arrested three students who were caught smoking marijuana on campus and police vehicles were damaged by protesters supporting the suspects. Days later, other groups of students demonstrated in support of the police.

We have two different perspectives. At no time in the Boomerang.com the real facts that had incited the students to react the way they did were mentioned, and, on the other hand, in the Brasil de Fato’s web article the whole operation is described.

Violence in the campus, military police brutality, police vehicles damaged, a group of students arrested, threats and verbal abuse, assault with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and batons. At the end of all, a polemical comment of the governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alkimin, crowned the whole situation: “Some USP students needed a lesson about democracy”, he said.

That same day, the state government authorized the action of 400 men in riot gear, armor, helicopters and military police to effect the repossession of the building, but without establishing a dialogue with the protesters.

Geraldo Alkimin was invited by USP students to teach them about democracy several times. In the end of a parade organized by the students to protest the situation, they were in a big debate about democracy made by teachers and students and the governor again. He did not show up.

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