Postcards with photographs of the armored cars popularly referred to as caveirões (big skulls), used in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by the Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE), will be part of an international campaign that will be launched in February to denounce Brazilian police violence in Rio’s favelas (shantytowns).
This is one of the mobilization strategies led by Amnesty International and other non-governmental organizations, such as Global Justice, the Network of Movements and Communities Opposed to Violence, and the Petrópolis Center for the Defense of Human Rights.
Global Justice researcher Marcelo Freixo says that debates and talks on police violence and public safety policies will also be organized in various Brazilian states.
In Freixo’s opinion, the black armored cars bearing the BOPE symbol – a skull embedded with knives – "show what their purpose is, indiscriminate killing."
He says that expressions like "Get out of the way" and "I’m here for your soul," said to be used by members of the military police elite forces riding in the "caveirões" during their raids, are still common practices "to terrorize and intimidate" the communities.
According to Márcio Jerônimo, a resident of the Manguinhos shantytown and member of the Network of Movements and Communities Opposed to Violence, the campaign plans to denounce social policies in the shantytowns, which, in his view, "have projects without signs of results."
Lieutenant-coronel Aristeu Tavares, public relations officer of the Rio military police, claims that the BOPE armored cars do not behave in a violent manner in the communities.