Outrage in Brazil after a Black man beaten to death by supermarket security guards

Retailer Carrefour Brasil on Friday terminated the contract of the security firm whose employees had beaten to death a Black man at one of its supermarkets in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

The incident occurred late on Thursday when a store employee called the security after the man threatened to attack her.

Amateur footage of the fatal beating and tributes to the Black victim were published on social media. He was identified in local media by his father as 40-year-old Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas.

In a statement Carrefour Brasil, the local unit of France’s Carrefour SA, said it deeply regretted what it called a brutal death and said it immediately took steps to ensure those responsible were legally punished.

It said it would terminate the contract with the security firm, fire the employee in charge of the store at the time of the incident, and close the store as a mark of respect.

‘Black Lives Matter’

Black city council members protested outside the supermarket on Thursday.

On Friday, more than 1,000 demonstrators attacked the Carrefour Brasil supermarket. Protesters handed out stickers depicting the Carrefour logo stained with blood and called for a boycott of the chain.

They also held up a banner in Portuguese reading “Black Lives Matter” and signs calling for justice for Beto, a nickname for the victim.

The protest turned violent on Friday evening as the demonstrators smashed windows and delivery vehicles in the supermarket’s parking area.

Products burn at supermarket Carrefour in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The military police said in a statement it “reaffirms its commitment to defending fundamental rights, and its vehement rejection of all acts of violence, discrimination and racism.”

The statement also said one of the security guards involved in the attack was an off-duty military policeman.

Brazilians like to think of their country as a racial democracy and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro denies the presence of racism. But the influence of slavery abolished in 1899 is still evident.

Black Brazilians make up 64% of the country’s unemployed, die younger and are almost three times as likely to be victims of homicide, according to 2019 government data.