Brazilian slum residents protest after 9 die in police raid

A friend holds a poster that shows images of the nine people who died in a stampede, while standing on the narrow street where they died, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The state’s security agency said police were carrying out an operation when they were attacked by two men on a motorcycle and officers gave chase amid gunfire on sunday. The suspects fled into the street party attended by thousands of people in the Paraisopolis district. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

SAO PAULO - Hundreds of people in Sao Paulo’s Paraisopolis slums took to the streets Wednesday to protest against local police three days after nine young people died in a stampede during a police operation at a funk music party.

Police have said they were pursuing suspects that had fired at them, but several witnesses blamed officers for Sunday’s tragedy, saying police forced partygoers into narrow passages.

“It was not a tragedy! It was murder!” residents sang as they marched toward the office of Sao Paulo Gov. João Doria, who is responsible for policing.

Doria said in a statement there would be a “rigorous investigation” of the incident. Sao Paulo police ombudsman Bendito Mariano said that “police need to change its protocol” after the deadly raid.

State officials allowed entry to seven participants in the protest march.

Another protest took place at the same time in front of Sao Paulo’s Public Security Secretariat.

Danilo Silva, 17, was friends with many of the dead. He said he was at the party and blames police for the deaths.

“They are used to coming here and giving us trouble for no reason. This time they caused a bigger mess. They cornered a lot of people in dead end alleys and they caused all of this,” he said, wearing a shirt that read “Justice for the 9 of Paraisopolis.”

More than 100,000 people live in Paraisopolis, which I Sao Paulo’s second biggest slum. Paraisopolis sits next to the upscale Morumbi district, and the contrast between the two areas is frequently used to illustrate Brazil’s staggering inequality.

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