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Funeral of a black man beaten to death by security guards sparks anti-racism protests across Brazil

THE funeral of a black man beaten to death by supermarket security guards on the eve of Brazil’s Black Awareness Day was accompanied by anti-racist demonstrations across the country at the weekend.

Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, a father of four, was buried on Saturday in the southern city of Porto Alegre in a coffin draped in the blue and white chequers of the Gremio football team.

“I just want justice,” his partner, Milena Borges Alves, told Brazilian media. “That’s all. I just want them to pay for what they did to him.”

She said they had planned to formally marry in a few days after living together for nine.

Last Friday, Brazil’s national Black Consciousness Day, citizens awoke to footage circulating on social media of two white security guards repeatedly punching Mr Freitas in the face before throwing him to the ground.

One of the guards is then seen kneeling on Mr Freitas’s neck.

Demonstrators enraged by Mr Freitas’s death painted “Black Lives Matter” on the pavement of Paulista Avenue, one of the most famous thoroughfares in Sao Paulo.

Military police used pepper spray to disperse protesters outside a supermarket in the north-eastern city of Recife.

In a video message to the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro denied that his country suffered from racism and complained of an unspecified movement seeking to “divide” Brazilians.

Black and mixed-race people account for about 57 per cent of Brazil’s population but 74 per cent of victims of lethal violence, according to the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, a non-governmental organisation.

This figure is even higher, 79 per cent, for those killed by police.

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