Brazil plans to send more police officers back into a Rio de Janeiro favela amid a public outcry over the death of a 10-year-old boy reportedly killed during a police shootout, officials said on Sunday.
Police officials say Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira died during a shootout between officers and drug traffickers, but his family insists that he was killed by police.
Tensions have been high since the killing and police on Friday fired tear gas to break up a protest over the death.
The Complexo do Alemao neighborhood experiences frequent gang violence and was occupied by authorities in November 2010 in an operation that was unprecedented at the time.
“We are going to go back in there stronger. We are going to reoccupy [Alemao],” Rio de Janeiro state Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao told Brazil’s GloboNews channel.
Demonstrators in Rio took to Copacabana Beach earlier to protest de Jesus Ferreira’s death in Alemao.
Members of the Brazilian nonprofit group Rio de Paz marched along the beach and buried a white coffin in the sand in a show of solidarity with the 10-year-old slain on Thursday.
Security concerns in the Brazilian city are again under the spotlight ahead of next year’s Olympic Games.
“We are just living in constant fear here. There is crossfire every day,” resident Zaquel Nunes told reporters.
About 20 activists carried signs with the names of 18 children said to have been killed during clashes between police and narcotics gangs in the favelas since 2007.
Antonio Carlos Costa, the founder of the activist group, told reporters that the purpose of the demonstration was to “wake up” Rio’s population to the major cause of these violent deaths: the gap between rich and poor residents.
“How will the city of Rio de Janeiro respond? It will host the 2016 Olympics, yet here is the death of a poor child, the victim of stray bullets. How can we expect peace in such an unequal city?” Costa said.
In a statement, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressed solidarity with parents of the slain boy and called for those responsible to be punished.
Brazil’s government tried to crack down on crime in Rio ahead of last year’s World Cup and is attempting the same head of the Games.
In all, 38 police units have been sent into 174 impoverished, crime-wracked neighborhoods throughout Rio as part of a public safety program.
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