Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Let the Punishment fit the Crime

A guy walks into a graffiti shop.  He's got a big old surgical type bandage in his armpit, and another one on his shoulder blade.

The owner of the shop says: "What happened to you??"

The guy says: "Dude, I got shot!"

The owner says: "So you're the guy."

This little vignette played out at my store yesterday, except for the last line.  I didn't say that out loud.  Plus all the dialogue was in Portuguese.

So what happened to the guy?  Well, he was all over the local news a couple days ago because he wrote on a wall at the university he attends, at about lunch time, and then a security officer shot him in the shoulder from behind.  Not even in the act - he was descending a staircase, calmly leaving the scene of "the crime."

I'm not making this up, and I think it bears repeating:  a college security officer (not a cop) shot a student in the back in the middle of the day for writing on a wall.

Did he ask permission to write on the wall?  No.  Was what he was doing illegal?  Probably.  What, you may ask, did he write?  He wrote: "Deus = Você + Universo," or "God = You + Universe"

Last question: did he deserve to get shot for that?

I don't need to answer that, do I?  That's what you call a rhetorical question, right?

I don't know where you fall in the gun ownership/control spectrum and we're talking Brazil, they don't have a second amendment here (pardon me, do you happen to have a well regulated militia?  whoops, wrong hemisphere) but I think anyone who is not a serious wing nut would agree that shooting a college student with a .38 is not the appropriate response to petty vandalism.

People with guns: please don't shoot people if they are not engaged in violent crime.  I know cops like to shoot people for running away, and maybe that's what happened here (but don't forget, dude wasn't a cop): apparently my client had his headphones in and wouldn't have heard they guy yelling "Stop or I'll shoot!!"

The security officer, for his part, claimed he fired in the air and then the gun "discharged" (hate it when that happens) as he was lowering it.  That's not what the victim said  - he said the first shot missed and struck the ground in front of him - it was the second bullet that hit him.  Anyways, the idiot with the gun turned in the weapon and promptly fled - maybe they should have shot him for leaving the scene of the crime as well.  Admittedly he was probably afraid he was going to be beaten to a pulp by an angry mob - that happens here sometimes as well.  Another interesting detail I learned from the victim: only five of these guys are authorized to carry guns on campus.  This would seem to imply some kind of a screening process, would it not?  Give the guns to the people who know how to handle them?

Dude did turn himself in to the federal police after a day or two.  Hope they throw the book at him.  The victim is planning to sue for attempted homicide.  Apparently there were all kinds of witnesses.

Wait a minute, you might be saying, you keep referring to the criminal as the victim.  The real victim is the wall that was violated by his vandalism, and all the passers-by who are violated by having to look at it.

I don't honestly think m/any of you are thinking that, but if you are...

Pixadores, or taggers, get beaten regularly by cops and security guards and killed, shot generally, from time to time here in Brazil.  But that usually happens at night, and they are usually trespassing, and they still don't deserve to be shot.  Another thing that surprised me: I think it's safe to say that young black men are more likely to be shot than young white men, but this guy- he was white.

Here's a link to one of the articles about the shooting, in case you can read Portuguese:

http://atarde.uol.com.br/bahia/salvador/noticias/estudante-e-baleado-na-escola-politecnica-da-ufba-1621997

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