After days of anarchy in which Brazilians cited the film ‘The Purge’ as being a chilling representation of day to day life in the state of Espírito Santo due to police officers going on strike, federal armed forces took over policing the State.
In the film crime is made legal for a 12 hour period. In Espiríto Santo, it has been 6 days since police officers went on strike and turned a blind eye to all crime in the State.
In Brazil, it is illegal for police to go on strike. The state-wide crises began when their family members organized protests and blockades impeding cop cars from circulating. Police officers acqueisced to the situation.
Police officers in the State demand better wages and benefits and are also critical of poor working conditions.
As a result, Espírito Santo has seen a wave of unpunished criminal activity as looting and violence has gone rampant. As of day six of the situation the death toll due to violent crime has risen to 113.
Damages to the local economy has been estimated to be around 180 million in Brazilian currency. Many shops have chosen to remain closed as looting abounds and busses have officially stopped circulating. Schools have also been shut down.
In one case, a woman who ran to be state councilwoman in Espirito Santo’s last elections was caught on camera partaking in the looting.
To contain the crisis, the Brazilian Army has been showing displays of force in the State with a force of three thousand troops. In the cities of Vitória and Vila Velha tanks have been seen patrolling the streets.
“The armed forces will help reduce looting and mayhem. We’ll keep patrolling until the population feels safe”, said Colonel Ulisses of the Army’s Press Office.
Some civilians have taken up vigilantism in the meantime. In the city of Cariacica, one young man was lynched by inhabitants of an upscale neighborhood. The youth was thought to be thief and died after being attacked by a crowd this wednesday (8). The victim, Júlio dos Reis, was 17 and handicapped.
“It seems like he went to that neighborhood to talk to a priest. But when he was arriving someone screamed ‘thief, catch him’ and they started hitting him. He was never arrested, never used drugs, nothing. He was lynched”, said his grandmother.