A Black man has reportedly died after being attacked by two security guards at a supermarket in southern Brazil.
The incident was captured on cellphone video and subsequently posted on social media and gone viral in the South American country. Many believe it’s similar to the death of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police in May.
Brazilian news outlets have identified the man who passed away as 40-year-old João Alberto Silveira Freitas, He was killed Thursday (November 19) in the city of Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state on Brazil's southern border..
Freitas' death happened on the eve of Brazil’s observance of Black Consciousness Day, which celebrates “a regained awareness by the Black community about their great worth and contribution to the country," according to UNESCO.
NPR's Philip Reeves reports that Freitas' death also comes in the wake of the unsolved murder of a prominent Black politician and activist, and numerous killings of young Brazilians of color in the area by police.
"After the George Floyd killings, the still unsolved murder of Rio city politician and Black activist Marielle Franco, and countless killings by cops of young Black Brazilians in favelas, racist violence is already a massive source of pain and anger here,” notes Reevs.
He adds: "There's an avalanche of online anger, from Black activist groups, politicians and many others. It happened after Freitas reportedly had some sort of altercation with a supermarket employee.”
Footage of the encounter shows Freitas being lifted from his feet and dropped before repeatedly being hit in the head. One of the guards looks like they’re holding Freitas' arms down, while the other strikes him more than a dozen times. A store employee is reportedly who filmed the incident.
The Associated Press reports one of the guards in the video was a temporary military police officer who was off-duty at the time.
A confrontation between Freitas and an employee at the supermarket reportedly initiated the tragic incident. That employee then called over the security which set everything off. who then called security, local news outlet G1 reports.
After learning of the incident, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão denied racism exists in his country, saying "no Brasil não existe racismo," according to G1, which translates as "racism does not exist in Brazil."