Favelas in Lisbon

Ghetto life. Cova-da-Moura, Lisbon.

Last Thursday night, Portuguese police once again embroiled themselves in brutal violence in the outskirts of Lisbon. Officers have been known to beat and shoot civilians, as well as known social and anti-racist activists, in Cova da Moura.

Cova da Moura is one of multiple settlements inhabited by black minorities originating from former Portuguese colonies, particularly the Cape Verde Islands. It was originally a slum, but has improved significantly as a result of community action and self-improvement programs.

Despite the development it has gone through over the years, it continues to be, like other neighbourhoods of its kind in the Greater Lisbon area, subjected to stigmatization. Its residents have to deal with police harassment and abuse on a regular basis.

This translated article is a call for popular action against the police after the arrest of six men who have since been released, following accusations of invading a police station. They are currently planning their response, including a protest in front of the Portuguese parliament next Thursday.

Once more, the PSP has used abusive violence!

The PSP [TN: Portuguese Public Security Police] has been abusive in its use of violence. Not only did it savagely beat a young disabled black man. It has shot defenceless civilians, severely injuring some of them. One of the victims of the shootings had to undergo surgery!

February 6 2015 – 12:12h

Mamadou Ba – SOS Racismo

Today [Thursday, February 5th 2015], once more, as usual in the bairros in general, and in Cova da Moura in particular, the PSP has abusively resorted to violence. Not only did it savagely beat a young disabled black man. It has shot defenceless civilians, severely injuring some of them. One of the victims of the shootings had to undergo surgery!

As if that was not enough, the PSP has arrested and brutally beaten young social activists and black militants who had to to receive medical assistance as a result of the wounds and bruises suffered.

The PSP has, with impunity, systematically and repeatedly terrorized and brutalized young people in the bairros, with the help of the almost generalized silence of society, or with very mild condemnation reactions.

The deafening and accomplice silence, by the wider society and by the institutions, needs to be broken. A silence concerning the intimidation, the violent aggressions and the murders which have been structurally perpetrated by the police authorities against black communities and ethnic minorities.

In the way in which it has acted, the justice system has been one of the main (re)producers of dominant racist imaginaries, and of the social consensus surrounding the reigning impunity in the police forces, leading to the abuses, perpetuating ideologies and legitimating power relations which oppress the weaker and the most excluded in society.

It is high time to end with the impunity of police violence and abuse, as well as with the complicit silence concerning the state’s racist violence.

It is urgent that the silence is broken, that impunity is denounced and fought against, so we finally have the real possibility of doing justice against police brutality. It is time that we question such silences and how best to break them, so we have a possibility that justice can be achieved.

Tonight [Thursday, February 5th 2015], six young black men, falsely accused of an attempted invasion of the police precinct, beaten and injured by the PSP (some of them severely so), are going to sleep in the dungeons of the PSP. This just because they wanted to know what happened to one of them after he had just been savagely beaten up by the police.

Like them, thousands of young black men and women are abused by police on a daily basis. Police brutality is the visible face of the state violence of which they are victims. Effectively, police brutality reflects the apartheid which exists in the bairros. We cannot allow this to continue! We all must act and mobilize against this barbarism.


Photograph courtesy of Xanovsky. Published under a Creative Commons License.

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