Rafael, my second son, was murdered by the police on December 5, 2006, at the age of 20, but his humanity, affections and prospects for the future were taken away by the state six years earlier, when he became a teenage perpetrator, and he was denied recovery rights.
I remember as if it were the first time yesterday, in November 2000, that I got the call the police to let me know that my son was being held. He worked as a cook in a restaurant, and I was at work. At lunch, my phone rings 'The image of his purple face never left my memory'
I went straight home to get the documents and went to the police station. When I saw him walking up the stairs in shorts, shirtless, barefoot, and showing signs of beating - his back was dirty with boot prints, and his face was purple, I despaired. That image never left my memory.
Inside the police station, a delegate instructed me on what to do and allowed me to see him. Alone I asked about the crime without believing what was happening - which mother wants to believe that her son did something illegal? "Tell me who the culprit is," she said to him. Rafael was quiet and cried. Without an answer, I understood that he really did have responsibility for the charges.
I did everything. I went into debt to buy what I believed he lacked and enrolled him in a private school. But even after trying to get around the situation for four years, 16 to 20, he spent more time in prison than in freedom. His crimes were always the same: participation in thefts.
The four times he was arrested, I decided, as many mothers do, not to abandon him.
“My goal was to show them that there is affection outside that place”
My proactive stance during the visiting days drew everyone's attention, including a correctional officer who gave me a copy of the ECA (Statute of the Child and Adolescent), a pad and a pen. When he handed them over, he recommended that I read them, and if I had any doubts, ask him. I realized that he wanted to help me understand the system.
I realized that there was a gap between what the document required regarding socio-educational measures and what actually happened. While the ECA predicts that the adolescent who committed an offense must assume his responsibilities and be recovered with socio-educational measures, I saw my son's dehumanization.
Once, we prepared a family lunch. the kitchen I called him to set the table, but he did not answer. I got to the living room, tried again, was ignored. Using the code by which he was identified in Degase [General Department of Socio-Educational Actions], he stood up in awe. I was desperate, because the violence he reported suffering and the way he was treated in the units he went through influenced how he behaved out here.
In his last detention, I decided to go to the direction of the unit and together we developed socio-educational activities to gather and generate affection between family members and adolescents. One of them was to produce a calendar of commemorative dates, and to transform each one of them into a great celebration.
One of the events that most marked me was Mother's Day. Since I was young I had great moments with my family, and I wanted to reproduce them inside the unit. In the courtyard, we gathered the classrooms' tables and each of the mothers took plates and snacks. My goal was to show them that there is life and affection outside that place.
'They took you away me, but as long as I'm alive I want to change this situation'
Me and other mothers started to meet a few hours before the visit in front of the gate. I read the bylaws and cleared up my doubts. So we created a network called Movimento Moleque.
Our first action took place on December 10, 2003. At least 30 mothers different units in the city of Rio de Janeiro met. We dressed in black clothes, held hands, denounced the tortures our children suffered.
But, unfortunately, the situation has changed little. After being released for the last time, in 2004, Rafael continued in the life of the crime. I fought with him several times, tried to get him out of places and bad company. My son stayed alive for two more years until he was murdered by the police, on the same day that I graduated as a technician in popular education.
Frustrated, I asked myself why I was not faster than the system, which, personified in the police, killed my son. When I saw him dead at a table, I said: ‘Son, I won’t stop. They took you away me, but as long as I'm alive, I want to change this situation '.
In the last 20 years, I helped with demonstrations, I was invited to debates throughout Brazil and even internationally. I never stopped studying, and I realized that my son was not killed because he became an adolescent offender, but because he is black, and racism kills us every day.
As I see more and more conscious women like me, I believe that I have had justice for Rafael's murder. For all this struggle that I am waging is so that more and more people can awaken against the genocide of the black population. ”