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Punishers of Copacabana: “If I see an assault, it won’t be the victim who will get hurt”, says fighter

Martial arts teacher William Correia, who at the end of last year was appointed as one of the leaders of the movement that became known as “Copacabana Punishers”, posted a video this week on a social network in which he again calls for the mobilization of neighborhood residents against crime.

In December 2023, William was one of the people summoned by the Rio de Janeiro police to testify as part of an investigation into the formation of vigilante groups.

In the video published this Sunday, William called on the population to act if they witness any criminal action. “My message is to you, resident: don’t give up, don’t expect just me. You can do something, whether it's holding it or blowing the whistle. We have been distributing whistles through AGVC [Anjos da Guarda Vigilância Comunitária].”

“We have already shown that our voice is heard when we come together. Back then, we got the government to do something: you saw it on New Year's Eve and Carnival. The media was on top of it, the Judiciary had to give in on some aspects, but, unfortunately, they are coming back. I have received several videos, several reports of new robberies, of new thefts, both in the sands and in the streets,” he said.

See the video:

“I'm counting on you a lot, so that this vagabondage, these little vagabonds, doesn't stay. To me, he's a cowardly bum, he's not even a bum. It's good that they look at my stories, they follow me on social media. For you to see that you will not have an easy life”, he added.

In the video, he says he is not afraid of threats made by criminals. “You might think that threatening me will change something. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not afraid of threats. I'm not afraid of you. You are afraid of me and us.”

“This message is for you. And if I see a robbery, it certainly won’t be the victim who will get hurt”, he concludes.

Wanted by CNN William said that he is a “citizen outraged by the violence” in the neighborhood and that he “decided to do something about it”.

“We are working through a movement, Anjos da Guarda Vigilância Comunitária (AGVC), which, in partnership with the police, will help and assist in the fight against theft in neighborhoods. We will always continue to criticize the government, and not the police, who are our partners against crime”, he stated.

“Respectful citizens need to assist the police with information and cooperation 24 hours a day. Our motto is to monitor and report! The idea of ​​the video was to show the importance of each resident in this fight, with actions ranging from sound warnings with whistles to effective complaints”, he added.

Action by vigilantes could constitute a crime, experts say

Experts consulted by CNN state that fighting crime with one's own hands can also constitute a crime.

“There is no such thing as taking justice into your own hands. Justice can only occur with the action of State agents, with the arrest of suspects and with trials that guarantee full defense, contradictory proceedings and due legal process before the Judiciary”, says lawyer Ariel de Castro Alves, a policy specialist of human rights and honorary president of the group Tortura Nunca Mais.

“Taking justice into your own hands is a crime. After all, whoever holds the monopoly on legitimate force, at least in theory, is the State. So, when there is any insinuation that violence will carry out this private justice, this is affronting not only democracy but the structures of the State themselves”, comments professor Robson Rodrigues, researcher at the Violence Analysis Laboratory at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Uerj).

Source: CNN Brasil

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