This disregard for the lives and deaths of the marginalized is widespread throughout Brazil. In fact, Beltrame came under fire previously in 2007 for frankly stating that "a shooting in Copacaba is one thing, a shooting in Coréia [a favela in Mesquita, a city near Duque de Caxias] is another." Former police officer and current State Senator in São Paulo, Paulo Telhada, openly brags about having killed over 30 people while in the line of duty.
This is why, when Extra, a local news outlet and subsidiary of right-leaning media giant Globo published two covers that sought to contextualize the violence, many took notice on social media.
The cover acknowledges that deaths in a touristy areas have greater "repercussions," yet encourages readers to remember that mothers are burying their young sons in other parts of the city. On Facebook and other social media, some people embraced the cover for giving equal space to both tragedies, while others were quick to condemn Gilson and Wanderson as likely criminals and the cover as politically correct propaganda.
The deaths of GIlson and Wanderson come a bit more than a month after the highly covered death of Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira, a ten year old boy who was shot by a police officer in Complexo Alemão on April 2nd. Eduardo's senseless death and his mother's heartbreak introduced a New York Times article on police violence in Rio, especially those cases in which children are the victims, published just a few days after the deaths of Gold, Santos, and Martins.
People even sought to paint young Eduardo as a criminal. The president of an NGO that promotes education and Afro-Brazilian culture in Rio's favelas, José Júnior, was quick to call the child a thug who probably "would've killed a police officer if he had the chance" on his Facebook page (warning link contains graphic images).
The second Extra cover was published the next day, May 20th, following the arrest of the person suspected of killing Gold. The suspect is a 16 year old from Manguinhos who is only referred to as X and has his image blurred due to laws which protect juvenile suspects in Brazil.
The reaction to this second cover has been even more polarizing. A blogger for Veja, a famously conservative weekly magazine in Brazil, sensationally and crassly accused Extra of "stabbing journalism to death" by publishing the cover. Others applauded the cover for its nuance, and denounced others publications for using the tragedy as a way to push for lowering the age of criminal responsibility. Observatorio das Favelas, a research and activist organization that focuses on Rio's favelas, recently asserted that a reduction in the age of criminal responsibility would only serve to lead to higher crime rates as children would be exposed to criminal networks in Brazil's prisons rather than rehabilitated and educated through the juvenile system. Basic rights afforded to children in Brazil's Children and Adolescence Act need to be fulfilled before children are punished as adults.
The Extra cover sought to point out the violence that the young suspect--and it is important to highlight this word since even the Extra cover implicitly implies X's guilt--endured throughout his life. Rights violations and violence against children and young people, like X, Gilson, Eduardo, and Wanderson, is endemic in some communities in Rio. According to the 2014 Mapa de Violencia (Map of Violence) on Violence against Youth published by FLACSO (Latin American Social Science Institute), 2260 young people in the State of Rio were the victims of homicides in 2012.
That fact that two very different forms of coverage have come from the same media company has left some questioning the motives of the news giant. Some accused Globo of trying to divide public opinion in order to sell more papers, while others believe the two papers are just trying to appeal to their own audiences. Whatever the motivations of Globo or Extra, the coverage of this piece has at least started a dialogue around ensuring the livelihood and honoring the deaths of everyone, especially young people, regardless of their class or area of residence.