Brazil: Man’s Lynching Compared to Slave Flogging


Cover of the Brazilian tabloid “Extra”

A shocking newspaper cover – comparing a recent lynching to the treatment of slaves – has gone viral in Brazil. “From trunk to pole,” declared the cover headline of the newspaper “Extra”, comparing a 200-year-old public slave flogging to the lynching Monday of Cleidenilson Pereira da Silva.

According to reports, residents took matters into their own hands in São Luís, a city located in northern Brazil, after da Silva, 29, and a teenager attempted to rob a bar. Silva was caught, stripped naked, tied to a pole and beaten to death, the O Estado newspaper reported. Angry residents also threw a variety of objects at him, including stones and bottles. The teenager was brutally beaten.

“Have we evolved or regressed?” “Extra” asked, as it juxtaposed two images separated by 200 years. The cover’s first image, a work by French painter Jean-Baptiste Debret, depicts a slave flogged in a Brazilian town square at the beginning of the 18th century. The second image, a photo of da Silva’s lifeless body tied to a pole, was taken almost 200 years after Debret’s drawing.

“If in 1815 the crowd watched, helpless to barbarism, in 2015 the mass majority applauds savagery,” Extra said on Facebook, citing the 71 percent of the early commentators who supported the lynching. By Friday, the front-page image has been shared close to 40,000 times and received more than 10,000 comments.

Lynching is not uncommon in Brazil, especially in poorer regions where residents lack confidence in local police forces. Sociologist Jose de Souza Martins estimates that Brazil has some of the highest rates of lynching. “Brazil has one lynching a day, nothing is exceptional in this routine violence, this case isn’t different from the rest, expect for this image shocking image,” Martins told El Pais.


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