Undercover police officer Igor Martins of Rio de Janeiro has had his story of discrimination go viral after sharing the experience of watching a woman flee from him because he is black.
Martins told the expanded version of his story on Facebook, reports the Brazilian outlet O Globo, explaining that he often felt “sad” when people fled from him because of his skin color. He recalled the incident in question: As he got on a train in Rio de Janeiro in plain clothes, he saw a woman staring at him. “She looked me up and down. Her purse was in hand, she picked it up and held it in front of her.” As he approached, she fled.
“Little does she know I am a police officer,” he wrote on Facebook. “I would be the first to help her in any situation. I wanted to tell her not to be afraid, that I would not do any harm, but I opted to shut up.” He noted that he was “sad” to have been treated as a threat.
Almost immediately, he began to receive thousands of likes and messages of support. O Globo reported that, in “less than one day, he received more than 60,000 likes, almost 14,000 shares, and a flurry of comments in support.”
Martins later posted thanks to all those reaching out to him with support and gratitude for his work as a security officer. “I don’t want you to remember me as the poor guy who suffered discrimination, I want to be remembered as a police officer,” he writes. “All of us cops are seen by most of society as thieves and puppets of the government,” he adds, suggesting all police suffer some discrimination because of the badge. “People forget that, behind the uniform, there are men and women, fathers, mothers, and children that go to work every day without knowing whether we go back.”
“We work like slaves, we barely get our salaries,” he writes. For months, the government of Rio de Janeiro was unable to issue paychecks to police because of Olympics-related expenses. Police stations were forced to ask locals to donate basic items like toilet paper, as the government refused to pay for them.
“I don’t want fame, I want respect,” Martins concludes.
One look at Martins’s social media shows how dedicated he is to the community, especially children. Recently, Martins took children the Olympic Village to see a basketball game. His Facebook page also showed him giving food away to needy people, according to O Globo.