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 may dissuade police from entering or at least from robbing the residents.
In the story of Passover, the 10th plague on the Israelite slaves in ancient Egypt was the death of their firstborn child. Warned by Moses of the impending visit by the Angel of Death, Israelites marked their doorway with lamb’s blood and the Angel of Death passed over their house and their child lived. Like the ancient Israelites, favela residents mark their doors with bright yellow signs telling the police they know their rights in the hopes that these modern day Angels of Death will passover their home.
There is blood on the doorways and streets of the favelas, yet it has not prevented the Angel of Death from returning. Police brutality throughout Brazil plagues the poor and menaces the rest. Today, these bright yellow signs on modest houses, both poignant and defiant express a political and moral message, “We know our rights”, and implied, “we expect you to as well”. The signs challenge the police to acknowledge civil rights, the government to support them, and the Angels of Death to passover.
“We know our rights!”