Blog

Testimony before the Human Rights Commission of US Congress

Statement by Elizabeth Martin

June 9, 2016

 

I am the daughter of a policeman from Massachusetts and my nephew was killed by a policeman in Brazil. I sat here 6 years ago telling the story about the murder of my nephew Joseph. I know that my story is not the norm when it comes to police brutality in Brazil, the circumstances of Joseph’s murder don’t fit neatly in Brazil’s…

We have a job to do and I have to stop crying.

I have a headache from crying. This week, Renate Winter, vice president of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, reported that a wave of police violence in Brazil had been committed in order to “present a problem-free city to the world” for the Olympics.* I had predicted this back in 2010 when I testified before Congress. But what do I know? I am not a police expert, nor am I a…

Knowing the code – does Brazil’s police have license to kill?

Brazil police killings in Rio de Janeiro

When I was in college I was struggling in a class and I went to speak with the professor. Towards the end of our conversation, she said something that I didn’t quite understand. It was as if she was speaking in code; my deciphering what she said relied on my rather unsophisticated read of her tone, word choice and what I thought was a nod and a wink. I was confused and finally I blurted out…

My sister died last week, it was the second time she died

My sister died last week. Frances died on October 6 after a battle with cancer. Actually it was her second death but her final death. She first died the day her son Joseph was murdered by a cop in Brazil in 2007. Fran never recovered from Joe’s murder. I don’t know that a parent ever fully recovers from the death of their child. Some are able to continue on, they find reserves of strength and…

BRAZIL’S WORLD CUP PREPARATIONS WERE BLOODY, WHAT NEXT FOR THE OLYMPICS?

My prediction and fears are proven correct, the police in Brazil became more violent in the months ahead of the World Cup. I started the “Don’t Kill for Me” campaign based on the logic of the situation, that police in Brazil consider killing people a method to fight crime, they felt compelled to reduce crime before the World Cup, therefore killing would increase. And it did.

According to…

Team US Olympic leadership hold divergent perspectives on the Olympics and human rights – how to achieve a peaceful and better world

On Jan. 10 I attended a Boston Globe presentation by Olympic athletes and officials. I asked about the notion of the Olympics presenting an opportunity to support human rights in host countries and the range of responses surprised me.

Lisa Baird, Chief Marketing Officer for the US Olympic Committee clearly rattled by the human rights issues looming at Sochi, explained that we will keep our…

Paid to KILL, Paid to HIDE

In 1995 in the state of Rio de Janeiro, two policies collided and caused an increase in civilian deaths by police. In an effort to stem the wave of violence the governor expanded a policy already in place to reward police bravery with bonuses. At the same time the secretary of public security, General Nilton Cerqueira implemented a program that would reward “acts of bravery” by police with a…

Don’t Kill for Me made excruciatingly clear

The mass protests in June throughout Brazil were an embarrassment for the government. There is a Brazilian saying that you wash your dirty laundry in the house and suddenly the dirty laundry was out in the sunshine for the world to see. The embarrassment of the fact of the protests was compounded by the violent response by the police.

This photo (by AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) of the polic…

Why We Help

When discussing the campaign to end police brutality in Brazil “Don’t Kill for Me, Safe Games for All”, a friend said “I prefer to work on causes closer to home.” I stood there baffled. “Home,” I said, pondering the concept.

When I moved into my first apartment while in college, I recall sweeping the kitchen floor, giddy with excitement at my new independence and first…

Favela residents in Rio hope for Passover – police brutality plagues Brazil

In anticipation of a scheduled raid on a Rio de Janeiro favela by the police, non-governmental organizations have worked to educate favela residents about their rights. In past raids police unlawfully entered homes and stole from residents. Now, in anticipation of these raids, informed favela residents have posted signs on their doors indicating they know their rights. The presence of the sign…