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News :: Human Rights : International
IMC Report from Brazilian Massacre
21 Feb 2005
Dawn came on confused and quiet – a few milling about
– it was the quietest i had ever seen the camp -- so
beautiful at dawn with the light low and cool – then
the alarm sounded – I could see it wasn’t happening
now – people started appearing slowly from all points
gathering around a car with a sound system for news –
it was plain and simple – 30 trucks on their way all
full of military police – all the time the siren
didn’t stop ringing – more people came up to the
barricades – many ran off to tell their loved ones –
what a diverse group, old and young of every color and
description with young children in their arms and
little dogs running wild – surprisingly it was less
panicky than the night before – they were solidifying
the barricades quickly but there was little more to do
– there was a quick interview of police brass for the
corporate press -- the traffic had stopped on the
street outside the encampment -- they had blocked all
the roads leading to the camp -- i had no idea what
was happening on the other side but hoped there might
be an escape route there -- in the distance i could
see the military police unloading from buses -- they
were geared up like storm troopers with green and
black war paint -- i photoed a line of women who had
formed in front of the barricades and were praying and
crying, some with their children in their arms -- soon
there were about a hundred troops lined up in
formation in three squadrons -- i started to realize
just how hopeless this was -- a call went out for
everyone to be at the barricade -- huge block of
peaceful pilgrims collected there -- all ages and
races with their hands in the air -- theresistance
fighters had mostly vanished -- the military started
to move in in formation with sheilds raised tight like
a turtle shell -- i didnt see anyone even throw a
stone -- suddenly behind me there was an explosion --
it was a concussion grenade launched from a tear gas
rocket -- i was hiding behind the edge of a brick wall
and was completely confused how it could be behind me
with my eyes on the police -- another explotion
directly behind me and i felt the slam against my skin
and my ears went deaf ringing -- they were already in
the camp -- it was pandemonium -- everyone was running
and screaming -- as i ran i saw them coming from my
flank -- and aiming to shoot again not more than
thirty feet away -- then all hell broke losse --
suddenly there was gas, rubber bullets, concussion
grenades on all sides -- immediately i recognized the
sound of real bullets -- i tried twice to stop and
film but only for seconds until bullets flew near by
-- they were advancing on either side of me in large
groups -- it wasnt safe anywhere in the streets -- i
saw two women face down in the street -- i dont know
if they were alive -- at my feet i saw blood mixed in
the dry dirt -- everywhere people running in panic and
screaming and trying to find some shelter from the
barrage -- i headed to a back yard trying to cut
through the backs of houses and was slowed by barbed
wire between all the yards -- there was tall yuka
plants giving me some cover as i ran -- the military
units were already past me on the main avenue and
running rampant shooting everything -- it was so
terrifying -- they were shooting at anything that
moved -- there was no where to go -- i looked up and a
door opened and a woman was motioning for me to come
in -- i ran inside with another older couple and they
slammed the door to total darkness -- inside there
were two babies trying to scream but the were gagging
on the tear gas -- they showed me a bucket of water to
wash off the gas -- a man opened the door to look out
and i came around to film -- i saw military point at
us and yell something -- we had our hands in the air
but he and another raised there guns to shoot -- as
the door slammed shut the bullets hit the house -- we
all hit the ground -- one woman was having a panic
attack -- i could smell gas from just outside creeping
in -- they cracked a window the breathe and i could
see two women with babies and a tiny yound girl on the
bed -- the whole home was one small room and made of
simple bricks and used furniture with two beds right
next to the kitchen -- it was really beautiful and
simple -- i imagined the bulldozer destorying it all
with us inside -- the babies started to recover from
the gas and the man opened another window but was seen
by military and there was more shooting -- everyone
was screaming i htink to get on the ground -- i didnt
know what to do -- i tried to film but paced and
walked over to the corner to cry -- what in gods name
was happening out there -- the sound of shots and
screaming was contant -- i was trembling -- there were
police right outside yelling orders to come out -- the
man yelled something back about being peaceful -- i
yelled that i was international press -- he opened the
door -- i raised my hands high with video camera in
one hand -- they were in regular uniforms the woman
who was panicked before passed out right in front of
her husband as she walked out -- he grabbed for her --
the police made they they were going to shoot --
screaming at him i guess to put up his hands but they
couldnt see his hands were holding his wife -- i
yelled we needed a doctor -- it meant nothing to them
-- finally he raised his hands and dropped her there
on the ground -- i started walking out -- they had
pistols drawn and pointed at my head -- i couldnt
understand what they were screaming at me but they
looked like they would shoot -- i kept repeating i
didnt understand -- i was an international journalist
-- they mimed to keep my head down -- as i walked out
with my head down a few of they ran up and slammed
into me, twisting my arms and kicking my feet out -- i
got punched in the head and another jumped on top of
me -- after they ripped the camera out of my hand and
had me in plastic cuffs they started kicking me again
-- i got one of the officers names who beat me, torres
-- he seemed like he was in command and picked me up
and started screaming questions at me -- i asked if he
spoke spanish and he screamed no one speaks spanish in
here -- one of the others handed him my camera and i
got a woman cop to put my glasses in my front pocket
-- they started ripping through my bag -- i told them
again i was a journalist from new york city -- they
started to cut my bag off my back but i managed to
explain how to get it off -- there were other more
official looking officers in white uniforms who
appeared near by and seemed to pretend they were not
interested with their name tags turned away from me
-- they yanked me back to the main avenue and
motioned me to head off toward the main entrance --
the plastic cuffs were so tight even the adreneline
couldnt stop the pain -- i was completely confused but
saw women with children walking the same direction and
just followed them leaving my video camera still
running in torres´s hands -- there were troops still
coming in with different kinds of uniforms -- there
was still shooting but a lot of it was further away
deeper in the camp -- there was a long empty street
and i saw a cat scurry across and crouch under a fence
-- everyone was getting evicted today -- as i was
walking i recognized a policeman from the corporate
press interview -- he stopped me and started looking
through my bag -- i told him i was a journalist from
the usa -- it seemed to mean nothing to any of them --
as he was rifling through my things a huge military
policeman with a mask pulled up and black bullet proof
vest stopped and looked at my credencials -- he said
they were fake and slammed me upside the head with an
open hand so hard i almost fell off my feet except the
other officer who was smiling now still had me by the
arm and was holding me steady for the other --he led
me toward the entrance where the barricades had been
pushed aside -- in front of me were hundreds of
detainees kneeling on the ground -- two cuffed
together at the wrist -- there was black smoke coming
up in a half dozen different parts of the camp -- i
could still here the shooting -- they pushed me onto
my knees with the other prisoners -- what the fuck
next

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