Police investigate case of internet racism in reference to interracial couple
The Civil Police of the city Muriaé in the Zona da Mata region of Minas Gerais, initiated yesterday an investigation into allegations of racism committed on the internet against a 20-year old, a resident of the city. She, a young black woman, had her Facebook profile bombarded by prejudicial comments after a posting a photo last week in which she appears with her white boyfriend, 18.
After deactivating her account on the social network, the girl went to the Regional Police of the municipality yesterday to file a complaint. According to the press office of the local civil police, the investigations will be carried out by the 31st Precinct, which will request support from the Delegacia Especializada de Investigações de Crimes Cibernéticos (Department of Specialized Investigations of Cybercrime) of Belo Horizonte (the capital city) to discover the identity of the perpetrators of the offenses.
One message asks where the teen had “comprado a escrava” (bought the slave). Another asks if he is the young woman’s owner. In still another, a man says it looked like the two were in the senzala (slave quarters). The photo was published in another profile, “Pretinho do poder”, in which several people criticized the discrimination. By the early evening yesterday, the posting received almost 150,000 likes, 20,000 shares and over 34 thousand comments.
A few of the comments: 1st) “where’d you buy that slave”, 2nd) “sell her to me”, 3rd) looks like you’re in the senzala (slave quarters), 4th) are you the owner? 6th) I think you stole the white guy to take the photo, 11th) mess around and she turn into Nescau (chocolate milk)
After all of the repercussion, the victim posted a message in her profile lamenting the fact. “There will be racism as long as people don’t understand that on the inside somos todos iguais (we are all equal),” she said (1).
In the city Zona da Mata, the climate is of revolt. The administrative assistant Tamires de Carvalho Santos, 24, is shocked by the prejudiced reactions. “It’s terrible, we’re shocked. Everything that’s on the internet is public, but not to offend people. It is uncalled for violence,” she said.
The lawyer Alexandre Atheniense, specializing in digital rights, points out that after the publication of the Civil Regulatory Framework of the Internet on June 23, providers such as Facebook are required to preserve all connection records, applications and registration information for Internet users who publish racist content.
He adds that the police may request information, capable of revealing the identity of who committed the crime. “Contrary to what people often think, the internet is not a lawless zone, which makes any publication of this kind occur without the possibility of identifying the perpetrators of racist acts,” he warns. Atheniense believes the crime may be characterized as an injúria racial (racial injury/slur), under Article 140 of the Penal Code.
In this case, discrimination is directed against a specific person, while in racism, under Article 20, offenses belittle a certain color, ethnicity or religion. “Injury attacks the subjective self-esteem and subjective honor of the victim,” he explains. Punishment is one to three years in prison, plus a fine. The attorney points out that with the new legislation, the chances of punishing offenders are even greater.