Calling police to account in Bairro da Paz

This post is mostly about a recent event in a community in Salvador, the capital city of the state of Bahia, which I began to study in 2006. Bairro da Paz is an irregular settlement with a population of 60,000 residents, formed by a land invasion during the last years of military rule. The remarkable resistance of the original settlers to violent attempts by the city and state governments of the time to evict them from land that is now of great potential value to real estate developers laid the basis for a tradition of self-organization and struggle to build a better life that still persists today. But I want to begin somewhere else, in order to highlight the long history and wider significance of the problems that the residents of Bairro da Paz are striving to address.

The continuing legacies of a massacre

On October 2, 1992, a fight amongst inmates at the seriously overcrowded Carandiru prison in São Paulo resulted in the prison authorities calling in the military police for assistance.  A twenty-minute police invasion ended with 102 prisoners shot dead (and 9 others dead as a result of wounds from other weapons). The police claimed that they were simply defending themselves, but only 22 officers were injured, none seriously, and none as a result of gunshot wounds. In a series of trials that finally took place between 2013 and 2014, 74 police officers were finally found guilty of participation in an extra-judicial massacre.  The commander of the operation had already been condemned in 2001, but was subsequently absolved, only to be assassinated a few months later. The São Paulo state governor of the time denied having given the order for the police to invade Carandiru, and was never subjected to criminal charges.

The Carandiru massacre shocked Brazil and caught the attention of the world. It was the subject of well-known realist film by Héctor Barbenco, based on the testimony of a doctor working in the prison and the true life stories of some of its inmates. The film’s cast are a mixture of professional actors, including Wagner Moura, and real prisoners. The film, released in 2003, was shot in the Carandiru prison itself, which was subsequently demolished. Although this particular prison is no more, the contradictions that Barbenco’s film highlighted continue to typify a Brazilian prison system dedicated, as Loïc Wacquant puts it, to “punishing the poor”. But the Carandiru massacre had another unintended effect, since it marked the beginning of the movement within São Paulo’s prison system that became the First Command of the Capital (PCC). The PCC has developed mafia-like organizational characteristics and extended its influence far beyond São Paulo, precisely because that state’s authorities refused to attend to any of the lessons to be learned from what happened in Carandiru. Instead they resorted to a contradictory policy of backstage negotiation with the PCC punctuated by failed attempts at repression, which ended up strengthening rather than undermining this criminal organization. Repression failed because it involved further episodes of extra-judicial killing by the police, reinforcing the tendency of many residents of the urban periphery, also victimized by a class and racially biased official justice system, to conclude that the lesser of two evils was to submit to the alternative justice system offered by criminal tribunals in their communities rather than the prejudiced justice of a state that disrespected and oppressed them.

At the end of September 2016, there was another twist to the Carandiru story.  Judge Ivan Sartori annulled all the convictions against the 74 police officers. Sartori responded vigorously to critics of the decision through his official Facebook page, referring, inter alia, to “activists of pseudo human rights”, although even the conservative Folha de São Paulo newspaper found his refusal to accept that a massacre had taken place an unacceptable piece of legal casuistry. Yet Judge Sartori was insistent: there had been no “massacre” because the police had acted “in legitimate self-defence”, and no individual officer could possibly be condemned for acting in accordance with instructions lawfully received from superior authority.

This seems to tell us that authoritarianism is still the way in which the oligarchy behind the recent coup thinks that the country should be governed. Brazil’s elites expect to be able to continue to justify repressive and violent policing because there is ample public support for the proposition that “a good bandit is a dead bandit” (bandido bom é bandido morto). Support for a firm hand has actually grown because the economic crisis. The insecurity that falling real incomes and fear of unemployment provoke has added to existing fears of crime and violence. As I related in earlier posts, there have been recent outcries over police violence in São Paulo against pro-democracy demonstrators and even against protesting school students, whose rights to special treatment as minors were ignored. For the likes of Judge Sartori, such outcries are no doubt the work of “pseudo human rights” activists and “subversive” academics. He no doubt thinks that we deserve our own taste of the full force of Brazilian justice. But unfortunately for Sartori and all the others of his kind who believe that the poor need “strong government”, the Brazil so embarrasses them, made up of black, indigenous, and mixed race people, is still capable of challenging the right of the state to violate its own laws. This remains true despite the fact that it is not difficult to find people in poor communities who also take the view that criminals don’t deserve human rights and that bandido bom é bandido morto. This is because the violent force of the law has a worrying habit of descending on those who have committed no crime but happen to be poor people of colour.

Challenging authoritarianism in Bairro da Paz

On September 15, 2016, a public meeting (audiência publica) was convened by the leaders of Bairro da Paz’s community organizations to denounce abuses of members of the community by military police and agents of the Municipal Secretariat of Urbanism (SUCOM). As I describe in detail in my book The New War on the Poor, Bairro da Paz was one of the communities selected by the PT state government for the installation of a Community Security Base (BCS), the Bahian equivalent of the Pacificatory Police Units (UPPs) installed in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. The experiences of Bairro da Paz residents have been very similar to those of residents of favelas in Rio in which UPPs have been installed. Many people have been subjected to aggressive stop and searches in the street, in what looks like a racially profiled way. And like the Rio favelas, Bairro da Paz has also experienced some even more serious episodes of disproportionate use of violent and even lethal force by police.

In the case of the complaints against the SUCOM, bar owners and members of cultural groups accused its agents of over-zealousness in enforcement of municipal regulations on acceptable levels of noise. Although there have been complaints about noise from bars and music parties in the streets at anti-social hours from residents of the community, complaints from some of those subjected to SUCOM interventions, which are also sometimes carried out by the military police from the BCS, included alleged displays of unnecessary truculence by officials, illegal seizures of property, and, in one case, the targeting of bar because its owner and his family had been critical of the police, as well as claims that interventions had occurred during hours in which it had been agreed that the event generating the noise could take place.

Excessive control over street events involving music and dance is a particularly sensitive issue in Bairro da Paz, because the community is proud of its contributions to Afro-Brazilian popular culture. Actions against organized cultural groups are seen as an attempt to stifle creative self-expression and a form of cultural censorship by elites that are only interested in popular culture when it can be turned into a commercially exploitable resource by media companies that they control or can be “domesticated” into forms that benefit the tourist industry. This is again about “governing” the conduct of the poor, but it is not simply about that. It is about the appropriation of the cultural patrimony of the popular classes to serve the economic and political interests of a different social class. This issue is also central to disputes about the socially exclusionary nature of Salvador’s now highly commercialized annual carnival. And it is perhaps worth remembering that the slaves from whom many people in Bairro da Paz are descended also used to suffer police persecution for what the elites of that period called their “infernal drumming”.

But it is the BCS and the aggressive nature of some police conduct that has attracted most controversy. On the positive side, even his critics amongst the community leaders tend to concede that the BCS commander has made serious efforts to reach out to them and build bridges with the community. Under his leadership, the BCS, which celebrated its fourth anniversary two days before the audiência publica with a “Festival of Health and Citizenship”, has developed an extensive portfolio of training courses and social programs for children and adults. The commander has also offered to support the community, to the extent to which this is in his power, in its campaigns to oblige the municipality to build an additional school and address other longstanding issues. Yet even these positive aspects of the base’s presence have proved a cause for concern for some community leaders, since resources for social development activities and even healthcare now seem to be increasingly concentrated in the police base. The initiatives tend to be implemented in a top-down way, without any prior discussion of needs and priorities with representative community organizations. This creates the suspicion that the base is becoming an instrument for government of the life of the neighbourhood that undermines Bairro da Paz’s longstanding traditions of self-organization and “bottom-up” action to press agreed community demands and priorities in negotiations with public authorities.

But the immediate problem for many residents is the base’s role as a repressive police power. The September 15 meeting began with the national anthem and a video on daily life in the neighbourhood that emphasised its vibrant cultural life. This was followed by a series of videos made by residents that provided a graphic illustration of truculent, physically aggressive, behaviour on the part of police.

The Secretariat of Public Security sent a representative to the meeting, as did the Human Rights Secretariat and the SUCOM, although the Public Attorney’s Office disappointingly failed to send anyone. In contrast to audiência publicas convened by government, those convened by the community organizations of Bairro da Paz are managed and facilitated by community leaders. Because state representatives are not able to control meeting dynamics, many officials have found participating in these events in Bairro da Paz an uncomfortable experience, since they are not only called to account by the leaders, but by ordinary residents who wish to speak, are given a microphone, and tend to walk right up to the table where the officials are seated, look them in the eye, and ask them difficult questions that prompt applause from the public. This is one of the things that makes Bairro da Paz’s community organization especially effective as a vehicle for communicating community interests to the state in a democratic and inclusive way, although the public meetings in the community are only the opening for a process of negotiation and dialogue that does not necessarily lead to the results that the residents hope for.

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This was immediately illustrated on this occasion by the first specific case mentioned after the reading of the letter summarising the complaints that the residents wished to discuss that had been drawn up to frame the event, and is reproduced in the photos above. This concerned the violent death of a young man that had provoked a previous public meeting three years earlier. Many residents believe that this was an extra-judicial execution by serving police officers in which the BCS officers might have at least been complicit, if not necessarily directly responsible. A popular reading is that the death was the result of mistaken identity, the young man killed having been mistaken for another youth of his age who had made an official complaint about a beating that he had received at the hands of officers of the BCS, which had been upheld. Although this death was supposedly under official investigation, the family of the dead man were still waiting for justice, and the circumstances of the case also bring out another important cause of lack of confidence in official institutions on the part of residents. Although they are constantly being told to make official complaints about police misconduct, there is deep and pervasive fear that making a complaint will provoke a violent reprisal. There is ample evidence in the recent history Salvador that such fears are justified, and this means that many individual cases of arbitrary and violent treatment simply go unrecorded. The September 15 meeting reflected the determination of community leaders to bring the issues out into the open and give public authorities a more accurate indication of the scale of the problems by taking it upon themselves to reveal what had previously largely remained hidden by fear-induced absence of formal complaints. Since the leader also fear retaliation against their own persons, convening the meeting was therefore a very courageous act.

Retaliation was in fact at the heart of the first complaint made against SUCOM agents, whose actions may be supported by armed municipal guards as well as BCS officers, by the dead young man’s father, who owns a bar. Wearing a t-shirt with a photo of his dead son printed on it, he recounted a series of violent actions to which he, his family and his neighbours had been subjected. These included having a gun pointed at him and his establishment damaged. He was convinced that all this was an attempt to intimidate. This was followed by a speech by one of the community’s most prominent leaders that assured the officials that the community’s Permanent Forum of Social Entities intended to collect and formalize all the complaints it received in order to pursue appropriate legal action. Although this leader might be considered at the more radical end of the spectrum of neighbourhood opinion, since he is a militant of the black movement who emphasises the racist biases of repressive policing, what he said about the SUCOM was, in fact, quite measured. He recognized that excessive noise problems were a legitimate concern for residents, but argued for the need for dialogue to ensure that the measures taken to deal with them did not involve unreasonable interference in activities that were an important part of community public life, or recourse to unacceptably arbitrary and aggressive measures.

The initial response of the representative of the Public Security Secretariat to these initial presentations was to suggest that incidents of police misconduct were relatively few in number, although of great concern to the authorities and police themselves because of the damage the actions of the few did to the reputation of the corporation. But the Human Rights representative accepted that some serious issues were at stake, and he was eager to explain in detail that his organization was there to support victims, help them to pursue their complaints through the appropriate legal channels, and, when complaints were upheld, secure them appropriate compensation. He emphasised that this was the best way of securing positive changes in the culture of the police corporation, thereby tacitly acknowledging that problems might be systemic rather than the result of the action of a few “bad apples” in the police force. After this, the debate was opened up to further questions and denunciations from the floor of the meeting.

Denunciations, including more comments about how fear of retaliation inhibited formal complaints, came thick and fast. The first resident to speak recounted that he had made a formal complaint about police violence in 2013, and subsequently suffered continuous police persecution that included being accused of involvement in drug trafficking. He also complained that although agreements had been reached between the BCS and residents about the hours in which certain activities that created noise were permitted, these agreements were not respected and the police acted in a truculent way. The discussion then moved on to police invasions of private homes or businesses that used searches for drugs or arms as the pretext, despite the apparent absence of judicially acceptable grounds for suspicion, let alone an actual search warrant. A number of incidents have involved police aggression and disproportionate use of force against the relatively elderly parents of alleged suspects.

These included the mother of one of the community’s most famous musicians, who had, ironically, been one of the few community performers willing to participate in the inauguration ceremony for the BCS in 2012. The target of the raid was another of her sons, a former soldier ostensibly suspected of arms trafficking. The police responsible on this occasion were not from the BCS, but members of the Special Patrol Units force (RONDESP), units of which have been implicated in a number of cases of torture and extra-judicial killing elsewhere in the city.  The mother recounted her experience of aggressive and insulting police behaviour with dignity but also giving full vent to her feelings of outrage. Her son then recounted his own sense of humiliation at his own treatment and his feelings of shame that his mother had been obliged to witness all this and been left in a delicate state by the experience. He ended by pointing out that he had nothing against the police at all. Indeed, he had been studying with a view to joining the force himself.

These meetings are democratic in nature, and the microphone was also given to a resident who was strongly opposed to having the little time for sleep and rest that he enjoyed in an arduous day of working in multiple jobs disturbed by loud music. This provided some support for the SUCOM representative’s repeated insistence that his agents and the military police were acting within the law in response to complaints received from within the community. But the same resident then related a stop and search incident in which he and his friends had been called “bums” (vagabundos) by the police officers, hardly appropriate for a person working the long hours that he was working. Like everyone else in this neighbourhood, and all other similar neighbourhoods in Brazil, all he wanted was for the police to treat poor people with the same respect as they would show middle class white people.

One of the Bairro’s other leaders then related an extraordinary incident of which he had direct personal knowledge, since the family had enlisted his help. A secondary school pupil who had been expelled from class for bad behaviour had been taken away by a BCS patrol and beaten on the community football pitch as a punishment. After the police menaced the family, they refused to make a formal complaint about this totally illegal act of authoritarian disciplining, but community leaders took the complaint forward on their own account to the educational branch of the Public Attorney’s office and the independent police complaints department. They then heard that the boy had been arrested, had drugs planted on his person, and finally been obliged to sign a confession of guilt, which the police involved clearly hoped would end the complaint. But they were to be disappointed, since the leaders took the boy to the Human Rights Secretariat, where, assured of protection, he was persuaded to reveal what had really happened.

If this episode put the police on the back foot, the SUCOM representative had thus far managed to field most of the complaints made either by appealing to anti-noise sentiment amongst the residents or the noise perpetrators’ failure to understand municipal laws adequately. But now it was his turn to be discomforted by a resident who pointed out that SUCOM took no action against the noise created by events in the neighbouring city Exhibition Park, all of whose negative impacts on the lives on the neighbourhood residents seemed to be deemed legitimate. Although the SUCOM official repeated the need for residents to understand rules and regulations better with regard to matters such as confiscation of equipment, he was forced to add the suggestion that the residents get together to request an impact assessment of the shows in the park, so that any remedial action necessary on that front could be taken.

Responding to complaints against the police, the BCS commander reaffirmed the frequency of complaints from residents about noise, and reiterated the principle that the police had the right to enforce noise regulations without seeking the assistance of SUCOM, as the only organ of public power that maintained a twenty-four-hour presence in the neighbourhood. He also insisted that the BCS had absolutely nothing against the Bairro da Paz cultural groups, but had, on the contrary, itself sponsored an “Art and Life” project as one of the many social actions that the base had carried out in the community. He could legitimately claim that, when cases of police abuse of residents had been reported to him, he had urged the complainants to make a formal complaint. This was because it was necessary for the community to pursue the matter through legal channels in order for officers responsible to be punished or dismissed. This posture does not, however, recognise the reluctance of residents to risk retaliation in the light of what are documented cases of police harassment and threats in cases where formal complaints were made. All the commander could say in response to the father of the young man who had been killed in 2013, when he asked why the BCS had not responded more quickly to requests for assistance to the victim, was that the matter remained “under investigation”. But the military police captain then moved onto the counter-attack by playing a tape of one of the community leaders demanding the end of the BCS because it was simply an instrument of state repression. Given the right of reply, the leader under attack argued that his position did not seem to be outlandish in the light of the matters under discussion, and he explicitly questioned why social development resources for the neighbourhood were now being concentrated on the BCS and its programs. Some cultural groups could now only gain access to public resources if they did so in partnership with the police base, and others were simply being repressed.

What does Bairro da Paz really need?

It would certainly be possible for social development projects to be carried out independently of the base, as they were in the past. It might be particularly desirable for educational programs to be delivered independently of a police institution and the state government’s “Pact for Life” program, since there is a danger that institutions orientated towards discouraging crime and violence may be more orientating to controlling than empowering young people, encouraging them to think critically about the problems of their society, and to express their own senses of identity. I find it hard to forget how, several years earlier, the commander of the Bairro da Paz BCS had responded to early complaints about police truculence in stop and search operations in the street by suggesting that residents should take classes in how to “react appropriately” to being stopped by the police. Blaming the victim for not reacting passively to an experience that was unnecessarily humiliating is an authoritarian posture. It is because police treat people in a socially humiliating way that they often “react” with anger and thus expose themselves to a beating or worse for “disrespecting” legitimate authority. Far from reducing violence, this kind of repression is likely to aggravate it in the long term. It does not simply foster hatred of the police, but may result in victims being violent towards people who are weaker than themselves as a psychological compensation. There is little point in offering classes in the base to boys that are intended to discourage violence against women or children if you are also going to teach them that violence is legitimate for men who are “strong”, i.e. police carrying lethal weapons, by humiliating them on the street on another occasion.

Concentration of public resources on the BCS also seems questionable while there are still deficiencies of state provision of the constitutionally mandated rights of all Brazilian citizens to public education and healthcare in the form of conventional schools and clinics close to their homes, but equally questionable is the fact that the BCS anniversary celebration of a “Festival of Health and Citizenship” was sponsored by two foreign-owned private universities. One of the many problems in the Brazilian education system is that the best universities are federally funded public universities which do not charge fees, but that it is more difficult for poorer citizens to pass the entrance exams for the federal universities because middle class applicants have had a much better education in private schools. The Federal University of Bahia has, in fact, been outstanding in recent years in its efforts to increase the number of students that it admits from poor working class communities, and these policies have benefited students from Bairro da Paz. But public university places remain limited, and even though there have also been government grants to help poorer students study at private universities, many of these for-profit institutions offer a relatively low quality training in return for Brazilian taxpayers’ money.

A fundamental question about the Community Security Base program is whose security it is designed to guarantee. In the case of Bairro da Paz, the base’s presence has failed to prevent residents being victims of serious crimes on a number of occasions. I have interviewed police officers working in other communities, themselves residents of poor neighbourhoods, who have accepted that the political impetus behind the BCS program is more one of calming the anxieties of citizens who do not live in favelas rather than making life safer for those who do live in these types of communities, although they did not see these goals as necessarily incompatible. Yet only a few BCS projects in Salvador have been successful at implementing a true “proximity policing” model that builds real trust between police and residents. This is a matter of having properly trained officers who have a personal commitment to embracing a different style of working. Proximity policing should ideally involve mixed patrols of male and female officers, which is particularly important when police enter homes. One of the problems in Bairro da Paz is that no female officers were available for a base that the state government installed in a hurry for electoral reasons. 2016 did finally see the first female officer arrive, although it is difficult to escape the conclusion that some of the incidents that provoked complaints presented at this meeting might not have occurred had the neighbourhood police force had a different gender composition.

Although the continuing presence of drug traffickers in the community provides a pretext for the aggressive way that at least some BCS officers treat residents, it is also necessary to question the assumption that the real function of this kind of policing project is to combat crime and violence. The traditional function of the Brazilian military police was that of preserving the kind of social order in which everyone knows their proper place. Younger members of the cultural groups that celebrate their blackness in a creative as well as politicized way are particularly vulnerable to police abuse because many police associate their life-styles with crime and drug use, generally mistaking art for life. But the range of denunciations made at this meeting show that entire communities continue to be stigmatized despite the fact that most of their members are hard-working, when there is work to be had, and participate actively in churches, secular voluntary organizations, and social movements. They do not need to be taught how to be citizens precisely because they have long been demanding that their rights as citizens and persons be respected. There is little point in the BCS offering classes on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship if the lesson taught by the behavior of some police officers on the street is that people who live in Bairro da Paz are second class citizens.

The social development activities organized by the BCS are generally appreciated. Yet there has been a good deal of socio-educational activity already in this community. Some of it has been organized by the Catholic Santa Casa de Misericordia, in whose centre the September 15 meeting took place. But important voluntary organizations have also been created by young people living in the community itself. As I discussed in a previous post, the work of the Apompaz Institute has contributed strongly to the social development of the community by valorizing education and promoting socio-cultural and creative activities, playing an important role in the increasing participation of people from Bairro da Paz in higher education. Such community initiatives have produced a generation of young people who have lively minds and a thirst for knowledge that is aided by extensive use of the Internet and digital social media. They not only play music and dance but view serious films and write poems. Paternalistic and authoritarian educational programs imposed from above are often misguided because they assume that the children of this community are only fitted for manual labour or unskilled service sector jobs. This ignores the fact that more and more residents of Bairro da Paz clearly do not want to stay in the place that Brazilian elites think that they should occupy. Yet the actions of the new government installed by the coup against Dilma Rousseff already show that one of the motives behind this attack on democracy is precisely to put the lower classes back in the social place in which these elites think that they belong.  Using the instrument of a medida provisória, a presidential decree that ensures that the measure requires no parliamentary debate before it acquires the force of law, the regime has made drastic changes to the national school curriculum that favour technical training over classes in social sciences and humanities subjects, which now cease to be obligatory (as does physical education, somewhat bizarrely in a country that has just hosted the Olympic Games). These changes seem to be motivated by more than a desire to reduce public spending: they seem to be aimed at discouraging critical thinking about society and politics.

The policing problems that were denounced at the September 15 meeting cannot be dismissed simply as the result of a few officers behaving badly. The Bairro da Paz BCS has taken some steps towards becoming part of the life of the neighbourhood, but it has not succeeded in establishing the kind of “proximity policing” model that changes the everyday relations between all residents and the police to ones of universal cordiality, trust and mutual respect. The culture of the BCS remains tied to that of a military police corporation that preserves the authoritarian legacy of the dictatorship, and perhaps ultimately that of Brazil’s not so distant past of slavery and traditional elite anxieties about the governability of mixed race masses and their place in a nation whose elites embraced the positivist slogan of “order and progress”. With no apparent sense of the irony, Michel Temer did in fact explicitly invoke “order and progress” in his first speech about what he would offer the country after the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff began.

There are sections of the police, albeit in the minority, who advocate radical structural reform, demilitarization, and putting “proximity policing” and absolute respect for human rights at the centre of everyday police work. There are also police who are corrupt, extort money from people in return for not arresting them or for not taking their cars or motor bikes to the pound, police who are themselves linked to organized crime, and police who are willing to participate in extermination squads, either to avenge fallen comrades or to cleanse communities of supposed undesirables. They too are a minority. But the work of even the most honest, professional, public spirited, non-racist, and socially well-intentioned police is prejudiced by the fact that whatever their personal inclinations or convictions, they are obliged to serve as the instruments of a durable regime of power and inequality that has successfully reasserted itself against political forces that aimed to improve the balance of social opportunities but without challenging the fundamentals of the system in a more thoroughgoing way. This is not a good environment in which to improve respect for human rights. That is the stark message of Judge Sartori’s revision of the Candiru case.

The September 15 public meeting in Bairro da Paz ended with renewed calls on both sides for dialogue, and specific proposals from the community leadership to revive working groups to discuss problems and improve communication and mutual understanding. The desirability of pursuing complaints formally was accepted, although, within days, new incidents were reported through the WhatsApp messaging system of the Forum of Entities (in which the BCS commander also participates).  What will come of any new investigations made in response to formal complaints remains to be seen. But even if more complaints are upheld, this alone may not be enough to change a situation in which repressive policing reflects the fact that poor communities are characterized as a threat to the security of citizens elsewhere in the city that justifies a firm hand, particularly given the heightened emphasis on security and diminished emphasis on human rights being promoted in the current political climate. Since Bairro da Paz’s own institutions are more democratic than those of the country as a whole at the moment, there are often lively disagreements within the Forum of Social Entities, whose members who have always represented quite a range of social and political positions. Some of the Forum’s members will in fact be happy that the conservative ACM Neto of the DEMs has been returned to power as mayor of the municipality for a second term (albeit one that is likely to be cut short by his running for the governorship).  But what everyone agrees on is that community residents are entitled as citizens to the same respect as those who live in the more “noble” neighbourhoods of the city. And community leaders deserve our admiration for trying to do something serious about the problem, since this was not an action devoid of personal risk.

Acknowledgement. Since I am currently in England and could not attend the September 15 meeting in person, I need to thank my wife, Dra. Maria Gabriela Hita, for making and sending me digital recordings of what was said at the event, and her student research assistant, Denairan Malafaia, for writing an excellent report on the proceedings. Responsibility for the interpretations and analyses of the data that they provided offered in this post is, of course, mine alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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