Shoot-Out Between Rio Cops and Drug Dealers Kills Nine

By McCarton Ackerman 06/26/13

A fatal gun battle in a Rio slum calls into question whether police reacted with needless violence.

Brazilian police in Maré, a favela in Rio

A violent clash between Brazilian riot police and suspected drug traffickers resulted in nine deaths in a Rio favela on Monday. After a protest at Maré—one of Rio's biggest favela complexes and home to over 130,000 residents—a sergeant was gunned down, resulting in a shoot-out that killed two residents and seven drug traffickers, a military police spokesman said. Residents claim that police reacted to their comrade's death by needlessly killing people inside buildings several hours after the clash had ended. However, the officers deny this and said a peaceful protest turned violent when crack cocaine users took the protest as an opportunity to rob people and loot a supermarket. "This was not a case of revenge, it was a police operation to go into the favela to conduct a forensic investigation into the killing," said a police spokesman. Angry locals protested yesterday in response, prompting police to send in a tank and hundreds of officers to quell any potential riots. Local NGOs have condemned the actions of Rio police, which they say are part of an ongoing problem. "Any police operations that leads to the deaths of eight citizens is wrong," said Luke Dowdney, a Brit who established Fight for Peace, a boxing and martial arts centre in Maré. "This war mentality policing is what the state is supposed to be moving away from. We need police to establish a presence here and to bring justice, not the opposite." More than one million residents took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro last week to protest police brutality and corruption.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.