Diego Augusto Ferreira had borrowed a neighbor’s motorcycle on a Saturday evening in Rio’s west zone. The 25-year-old, who worked as a street hawker in downtown Rio, was on his way to buy oil for his grandfather’s car.
But he didn’t return. Instead, a bullet to the neck on May 12 turned him into the first civilian to be definitively killed by army personnel in Rio de Janeiro’s federal intervention. “The city is getting more and more violent… we leave home and don’t know if we’re coming back, what we’ll find in front of us,” read one comment online following Ferreira’s death.
When Brazilian President Michel Temer announced that he would place national armed forces in Rio to combat rising crime rates, many understood it to be a precursor to a presidential campaign. But even as it began, the National Council for Human Rights called the measure “a license to kill”, and said that it legitimized “war ideology as a justification for eventual civilian deaths.”