Racism at Carrefour shows that retailers did not learn from Beto’s death

Lula stated that “we will not admit racism”, in a meeting with his ministers, after yet another case of prejudice committed by employees of the Carrefour group. To do so, the president will have to seek changes in legislation to increase the accountability of companies for crimes against human rights.

Black teacher Isabel Oliveira was chased by a security guard while shopping at Atacadão Parolin, in Curitiba, which belongs to the French chain, last Friday. Afterwards, she returned to the establishment and took off her clothes in protest, showing the phrase she wrote on her own body: “Am I a threat?”

On the same day, Vinícius de Paula, husband of Fabiana Claudino, two-time Olympic volleyball champion, suffered racism at a Carrefour unit, in Alphaville, a high-income condominium close to São Paulo. He was denied service at an empty preferential teller, who later accepted a white customer who also did not fit the requirements.

The column heard from advisors to the president that the federal government will support projects that oblige companies to adopt behavior in line with respect for human dignity. One example is PL 572/2022, from the Chamber of Deputies, which creates a national framework on companies and human rights in the country and requires companies to respond for damages caused directly or indirectly to society.

Carrefour, as always, issued notes, saying that it is sorry, that it removed those involved, that it will collaborate with the investigations, that it is committed to the anti-racist agenda, which has been in place in the country since 1975… In other words, they have known Brazilian legislation since that Lei Áurea was 87 years old. And today, she has 153.

It is good that Lula is not only indignant because Brazil is lagging behind in terms of laws that oblige companies to take responsibility for the negative social, labor and environmental impact of their activities. Silvio Almeida, Minister of Human Rights, has already told the column that the issue is one of his priorities for this government.

And it is not possible to say that the theme is new for the company. On November 19, 2020, João Alberto Silveira Freitas was murdered in a unit of the Carrefour supermarket in Porto Alegre on the eve of Black Consciousness Day. Immobilized, he ended up suffocated and beaten to death in the parking lot by a security guard and a temporary military policeman. The case generated international commotion and led the company to close an agreement to pay compensation and change behavior in its stores.

In August 2009, Januário Alves de Santana, accused of stealing a car from a Carrefour store in Osasco (SP), was subjected to a torture session. “What were you doing inside the EcoSport, thief?”, they asked, while five people kicked, punched, butted, in your head, in your mouth. The car was his, bought in 72 installments. In the minds of the supermarket security guards, a black person could not have a white car.

Accusations of racism abound against supermarkets

Nor is the sector unaware of the issue. Two men were tortured and extorted by five UniSuper security guards, in Canoas (RS), in front of the store’s manager and assistant manager, after trying to steal two pieces of sirloin steak that together cost R$200. black man was placed in an induced coma in the hospital with fractures to his face and head. After the beating, the manager still took a photo to celebrate. The images were revealed at the beginning of last December, but it happened in October.

In April 2021, Bruno Barros and Yan Barros, uncle and nephew, who stole meat from a unit at the Atakadão Atakarejo supermarket, in Salvador, were found dead with signs of torture and gunshot marks. Images of them surrendered after the theft circulated through the networks. Market security guards reportedly handed both over to traffickers to be punished and killed.

On February 14, 2019, Pedro Henrique de Oliveira Gonzaga was killed by a security guard at the Extra supermarket in the same Barra da Tijuca as the Tropicália kiosk, where Moïse was killed. He gave a tie and threw his weight on the young black man. People warned that Pedro was suffocating, but the torture session continued. The boy’s mother witnessed the scene. She asked the security guard to stop.

In July 2019, a 17-year-old black youth was stripped, gagged and whipped by two foremen after attempting to steal chocolate bars from a Ricoy supermarket unit on the outskirts of São Paulo. The market said the bouncers were from a third-party company – as usual. As in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, the executioners themselves recorded the scenes.

That is, with some variations, the same scene is repeated, and repeated, and repeated, already part of the landscape of a country defined by racism at all levels of its social relations. The difference is that, in recent years, the attacks, which have always occurred, can be watched by millions recorded by security cameras or cell phones.

Considering that there are many who feel comfortable incorporating the foreman in commercial establishments, but also in police stations and outskirts, and seem to appreciate his work in putting them “in their proper place”, the two cases on Friday were not the first time and it won’t be the last.

Companies can be engines of social development or vectors that maintain violence. It’s time for them to point out which side they want to be on. And the government to criminally and economically punish managers and companies that insist on being in the second group.

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