Towards the end of 2015, activists aged between 13 and 18 took it upon themselves to occupy over 50 state schools in São Paulo, Brazil, resisting the threat of police violence and fighting for their education, their friends and their future.
Occupations began on November 9, a youth-led movement motivated by the state’s planned restructuring of the school system, a proposition that would lead to the closure of 98 schools. Unwilling to accept such a decision without rebellion, teenage students moved into schools and onto the streets.
We Rule The School is a film made by Brasil Wire focussing on the protests and the kids that led it. “We aren’t just fighting for ourselves, we are also acting for the police’s children who are probably not in private schools either,” says one. “We are doing this for the future,” says another.
Daniel Hunt co-directed the film. “One thing that really struck me is how politically engaged and articulate these pupils are, especially in the context of very narrow media ownership here, with a heavy conservative bias,” he says. “Another of the things that makes this story unique is that the students are so clearly focussed on the State Government of Geraldo Alckmin, who usually gets a free pass from domestic & foreign media as he is of the Right Wing opposition PSDB. Their protest made that impossible, and his popularity plummeted. He’s actually just been caught paying off media in exchange for omitting negative coverage.
“This also demonstrates what is so often missing when Brazil is reported abroad – when we see these scenes of Military Police attacking students, it must always be clear that they are under State, not Federal control – Sao Paulo and other States such as Parana which has seen repression of Teachers strikes, protests and so on, are run by the main national oppositon, PSDB. Yet when these stories appear, inference by omission is that the responsibility lies with Federal Government, or Dilma Rousseff herself. This would be a fair assumption of course for the casual reader, which is why the point is emphasised. This also explains why a protest like this, however inspiring, was comparatively ignored abroad – if it doesn’t fit an anti Rousseff narrative, people aren’t interested.”
Watch We Rule The School below for a lesson in Brazilian rebellion and a primer on Sâo Paulo post-punk. Follow the here.
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