Portuguese police on trial for racist assault on 6

Seventeen police officers accused of beating up six black men are in court this week. This is an opportunity to discuss police brutality in Portugal -- and the racial drive behind some cases.

Catia Bruno
Cátia Bruno NewsMavens, Portugal
Portuguese police on trial for racist assault on 6 - NewsMavens
Graffiti. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

In 2015, six young men from a troubled neighborhood accused 18 police officers of savagely beating them shooting one of them in the leg with a rubber bullet. The trial of 17 of those officers started this week  -- one female officer was not indicted since it was not possible to prove she was in the precinct on that day.

The police officers deny the accusation and claim the young men attempted to "invade" a police station to try to free another black man who was arrested. The prosecutors claim the men had simply entered the police station to ask questions when they were assaulted by the officers, whom they accuse of torturing the six men, with "racial hatred" as their motivation.

Portugal is a country with a troubled colonial history, but the issue is seldom discussed. Organizations like the United Nations and Amnesty International keep stressing that racism remains an issue, but governments and society alike are firmly in denial. 

Considering these circumstances, it is not a surprise that records of police brutality against black men are not much exposed or discussed, but they do exist, particularly in the urban peripheries where racial minorities are segregated. 

Details from the story:

  • Flávio Almada, one of the six black men allegedly assaulted, hopes the trial will "help to break the curtain of silence that covers this topic." 
  • The police officers' lawyer, Gonçalo Gaspar, claims there are circumstances that help to explain the violence (the alleged invasion) and that the officers "are not racists".
  • The trial is expected to end in September. 
  • A riot police officer who is studying police action in this kind of neighborhood claims there are deeply racist ideas among some of the officers -- "some of them even use neo-Nazi tattoos and symbols." 
  • Amadora's local prosecutor's office has started 15 inquiries last year regarding police violence. Most of them are against black citizens. 
  • The national prosecutor and the government both claim they don't have official statistics on police violence. 
Only relevant news in your inbox.

Our top picks in your inbox -- the best stories from Europe's front pages, selected by top women editors.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
Google DNI
SUPPORTED BY:
Women in news
World Editors Forum
STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA
Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
Core team_
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna or Lea will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy