Footage showed Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, 40, being repeatedly punched in the face by the guards at the store.
Bishop Luíz Vergílio Batista da Rosa, president of the Episcopal College of the Methodist Church of Brazil, issued a statement expressing sorrow and solidarity with the Freitas family. “We hope that justice will be done. We continue to hope for a more just, fraternal, welcoming society without racism and ethnic violence. As Christians, we say: It is not enough not to be racist. We have to be anti-racist!!” he wrote.
Bishop Naudal Alves Gomes, primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, said: “Our responsibility, as Christian citizens, is to overcome and renounce these social, structural sins and really commit ourselves to the justice and peace of the Kingdom of God. Our church has sought to follow this path, raising its prophetic voice, exercising solidarity, seeking to dialogue with other religions,” he said.
According to a recent survey by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, afro-descendants make up 56.10% of Brazilian society. However, racial discrimination and violence remains prevalent in the country.
“It was with great pain, we followed up another case of racial violence in our country. We stand in solidarity with all the victims of violence and call for justice and peace,” reads a statement of the leadership of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil. “We must overcome evil with good, transform violence into peace.”
The Coordinating Council of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil released a statement reiterating its historic commitment to combat racism and all forms of discrimination. “No Christian lives a mature Christianity if he remains silent in the face of this social sin that marginalizes and kills millions of black men and women in our homeland,” reads the statement.
The Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil promoted an online event on the National Black Consciousness Day to debate the issue of racism as a sin. “Racism is a crime! Racism is a sin! The church needs to talk about this sad reality in order to fight it, according to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” read the announcement of the event.
For Rev. Romi Bencke, general secretary of the National Council of Christian Churches, the murder of João Alberto is yet another fact that exposes the racist face of Brazil. “In recent days, in addition to this murder, black women recently elected for city councils have suffered death threats,” she said. “We hope that accountability for this crime is not limited to the security guards, but also the supermarket chain. Private companies must also be held accountable for racist practices.”