Lula attributes violence in schools to Internet, “trigger-happy industry”

Brasilia, Apr 18 (EFE).- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday attributed the recent attacks on schools to “hate” that is spreading “unregulated” on the Internet and to weapons policies, which he called a “trigger-happy industry.”

Lula called on authorities at all levels to analyze the wave of attacks and threats against schools that in recent weeks have sown terror around the country and which he linked to the “impunity” that prevails on the Internet and to the policies of his predecessor, ultrarightist Jair Bolsonaro, who facilitated public access to weapons.

The president acknowledged that “violence has always existed” and that in Brazil’s favelas (shantytowns) “innocents die every day,” but he said that these brutal realities have been aggravated by “online platforms that make money by spreading violence and that are getting richer and richer” by promoting online what they are prohibited from doing in real life.

According to Lula, the situation will not be resolved “with money, but rather with attitudes” and political decisions that prevent “the discourse of hatred” online, as well as by replacing weapons with a “culture of peace” with the participation of families in the educational process.

“We’re not going to transform the schools into maximum security prisons,” he said in response to the proposals from some sectors to install weapons detectors at schools or to surround them with walls.

Participating in the meeting at which Lula made his remarks were members of the cabinet, Congress and the judicial brnch, along with governors and mayors who, unanimously, committed themselves to putting an end to violence against childen and teens, above all “in the place where they must be, which is at school,” as Supreme Court Chief Justice Rosa Weber said.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino said that there have been 22 attacks on schools in Brazil since 2002, but he warned that seven have occurred since last June and that the most recent four were all staged since the beginning of this year.

The most serious attack took place in the southern city of Blumenau, where a 25-year-old man entered nursery school with an ax, murdered four children and injured four more, an attack in which police believe he acted alone.

Dino delivered an accounting of the actions taken by the government in recent weeks, during which threats and attacks have resurged.

According to the justice minister, 225 people have been arrested, 694 teenagers have been called to provide testimony to the police and 155 raids have been conducted amid a total of 1,224 cases that have been investigated.

He said that 756 user profiles have been suspended from the social networks and that 7,433 complaints of threats have been received.

Dino added that the daily average of 1,700 such complaints three weeks ago has fallen to about 170, although he emphasized that the reported threats have not been confirmed in a majority of these cases.

According to the minister, that proves that there exists a “real epidemic of hate” that “is scaring families” and which he attributed to “criminal organizations set up on the social networks.”

The head of the Supreme Electoral Court, Alexandre de Moraes, backed measures the government has already adopted to prevent the diffusion of content that incentivizes violence against children on the social networks, but he said that these measures must be made even more rigorous.

He linked the threats against educational institutions to ultrarightist groups devoted to spreading misinformation in the run-up to the national elections last year, groups that also promoted the attempted coup d’etat against Lula on Jan. 8 by Bolsonaro supporters.

According to De Moraes, the Internet “is not and cannot be a lawless territory,” adding that “it is necessary to ensure once and for all that what cannot be done in real life (cannot) be done in the virtual world.”

To that end, he proposed definitively adopting measures that force the social networks to “immediately” remove postings with “Nazi, homophobic, racist” discourse, as was done during the election season.

EFE –/bp

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