Most attacks against journalists during summer protests in Brazil were intentional, report found

In a report published last week, the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) found that 70 of the 113 cases of aggressions against journalists during the protests in Brazil that began in June this year were intentional; that is to say, they took place after the victims had identified themselves as members of the press.

For Abraji's president, Marcelo Moreira, the numbers show a setback for freedom of the press in the country. "When a journalist is prevented from doing his job, society is being prevented from having access to information, which translates into a very despicable reality for our country," he said.

The documented aggressions took place between June 11 and the month of October. Among the cases were incidents of intimidation, physical violence, attacks with police dogs, theft or damage to work equipment and imprisonment.

Abraji has been in touch with the victims since November to verify whether the aggressions were deliberate or not. The organization analyzed 91 cases, out of which 70 (or 77 percent) were deemed to be deliberate attacks on journalists.

Law enforcement officers were responsible for 55 (or 80 percent) of these attacks. The rest of the aggressions came from protesters who were unsatisfied with the mass media's coverage of the events. During the protests, cries were regularly heard saying "down with Rede Globo (Brazil's biggest media company)" and several mainstream media reporters were attacked or insulted.

In the city of São Paulo, June 13 alone registered 14 attacks, all of them caused by the Military Police. That day, journalists Giuliana Vallone, with TV Folha, and Sérgio Silva, with Futurapress, were injured after being shot with rubber bullets in the face. Silva lost his sight on one of his eyes.

Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro had its most violent days on Sept. 7, with three documented aggressions, and Oct. 18, when a group of protesters attacked three reporters near Bangu neighborhood.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.