Tsavkko Garcia, Raphael
Publication year: 2018

Rafael Braga Vieira was sentenced to five years in prison after police arrested him at a large demonstration in Rio de Janeiro on June 20, 2013.

25 years old at the time, Braga was homeless and collecting recyclables to survive. He was completely unaware that a mass protest was even taking place. Raphael was charged with carrying explosives when police found him with bottles of disinfectant and bleach, he was sentenced before the end of the year.

The protests Braga was accused of participating in were known as the “June Revolts”, they became the largest protests in Brazil’s history. Millions took to the streets. Initially the protests were against a 20 cent fare hike in public transportation, but that soon evolved into demands for improvements in public services, particularly education and healthcare. Ultimately, the protesters focused on the immense levels of police violence in both the country at large and that which protesters experienced on the street that month, resulting in dozens injured.

The Rio de Janeiro court’s conviction against Rafael Braga on December 3, 2013, was based on the then 10-year old Brazilian statute of disarmament, which prohibits the carrying or use of an “explosive or incendiary device, without authorization or in breach of legal or regulatory determination.” The problem? According to experts and a technical report from the  Rio de Janeiro state bomb squad, the materials found on Rafael had “minimum explosive capacity” and they were absolutely common materials that would not be the first choice for the production of a Molotov cocktail – as they accused Rafael of trying to produce.

Full article at Black Youth Project’s website. Date of publication: 30/09/2018

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