RIO DE JANEIRO – With teddy bears, dolls, posters and a Brazilian flag full of bullet holes, a civil organization protested Monday on Copacabana Beach against all the kids who have been killed by stray bullets while playing in a neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro’s north side.
The NGO Rio de Paz was peacefully protesting on Rio de Janeiro’s iconic beach against 31 youngsters being killed by stray bullets over the past 10 years.
The activists placed dolls, teddies and 31 posters, each commemorating one of the victims, on the sands of Copacabana Beach, where they also placed a Brazilian flag riddled with holes representing the bullets that ended the lives of so many children.
The president of Rio de Paz, Antonio Carlos Costa, spoke about the case of Sofia, who was hit by a stray bullet in a shootout between police and gangsters when she was playing at the children’s park of a restaurant in the Iraja neighborhood on Rio’s north side, and said “she was not an isolated case.”
“Over the past 10 years, 31 children have been killed by stray bullets, and in the last two, 18,” the activist said, adding that the organization chose Copacabana for the protest because “it’s iconic, the postcard of Rio de Janeiro” and “if we call on the public they won’t come. Brazilians only protest when their personal interests are at stake.”
“The government ignores the drama of these youngsters and society does as well...We’re living in a context of the war on drugs” and that causes “the police to kill many, and many police to be killed,” he said.
“Rio de Janeiro is a city that exists in this situation, with the entire metropolitan area taken over by munitions and arms,” Costa said.
“Society must do something. Imagine this happening in Madrid, Amsterdam or London – a child killed by a stray bullet,” he said.
The president of Rio de Paz said that in recent years the people have been “governed by corrupt officials” and that Rio de Janeiro “desperately needs to care for its shantytowns, combat social inequality and give policemen their due.”
“But that just isn’t happening,” he said.