CPJ has joined three press freedom groups in calling for the São Paulo state government to investigate the case of an unidentified police officer who harassed and pointed a rifle at TV Globo reporter Danielle Zampollo while she was covering an August 3 police operation in the Prainha community in the city of Guarujá, about 52 miles (84 kms) from São Paulo.
Zampollo was in Prainha following up on a July 28 police offensive launched in response to the killing of a police officer in the Vila Zilda community in Guarujá. The so-called Operação Escudo (Operation Shield) left at least 16 dead in Guarujá and Santos, 50 miles (80 km) from São Paulo, and is considered the most violent since police killed 111 inmates at the Carandiru prison in 1992.
Read the English translation of the letter below and scroll to download the original in Portuguese.
São Paulo, August 22, 2023
To Your Excellency Tarcísio de Freitas
Governor of the State of São Paulo
To Your Excellency Mr. Guilherme Derrite
Secretary of Public Security of São Paulo
The undersigned organizations, dedicated to the protection and defense of press freedom, hereby submit and request the following before Your Excellencies.
On Aug 15, 2023, with the airing of TV Globo’s Profissão Repórter program, another episode of violence involving São Paulo State Military Police against journalists was disclosed. On that occasion, journalist Danielle Zampollo was investigating the Prainha community in the city of Guarujá when she was threatened and intimidated by police officers.
After identifying herself to officers who arrived in a patrol car at the scene, the reporter began filming in one of the community’s alleys. Without any identification on his uniform, a military police officer pointed a rifle directly at the reporter and kept it that way for 17 seconds. According to the journalist, there were no other people around or any suspicious movement that justified the use of the weapon.
The reporter then sought shelter in a resident’s house, and while she was at the door of the house she was approached again by the same military police officer. The security agent began filming the journalist and harassing her. The video, which was widely shared on social media, questioned the journalist’s presence there as if it posed a threat to police activity.
Journalists carry out a function of public interest and that is constitutionally protected in terms of freedom of expression and the press. By documenting and investigating information about actions taken by public officials from a public institution such as the Military Police, journalists contribute to ensuring public scrutiny, a democratic and necessary exercise.
This incident has a strong impact on the overall state of press freedom protection in the country, which already records high levels of violence against journalists, particularly involving public security agents.
Given this scenario of insecurity for the exercise of the profession, it is crucial to ensure that state agents act with respect for journalists’ work, since, by the nature of their job, they should act to guarantee the safety of all, including press workers.
In light of the presented facts and arguments, we request that steps be taken to investigate and take the appropriate measures regarding the aggressive actions of the police officer in question, and the irregularity of his conduct, particularly due to the lack of identification.
Assuring your understanding, we also request that you publicly express your condemnation of attempts to intimidate and threaten the work of the press, thus reinforcing your commitment to the protection of the constitutional rights of freedom of the press.
For further information, responses or other inquiries, they can also be sent by e-mail to [email protected].
Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji)
Associação de Jornalismo Digital (Ajor)
Federação Nacional dos Jornalistas (FENAJ)
Committee to Protect Journalists – CPJ
Download the original letter in Portuguese