The hashtag #LochteGate has been blowing up on social media, since American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and his teammates (James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz) were exposed for (allegedly [innocent until proven guilty]) fabricating a story, which involved Brazilian men posing as police officers and robbing them. In actuality, security footage shows Lochte and crew vandalizing a local gas station (which included pissing on the floor) and getting belligerent with security.
#LochteGate is “deeper than rap,” though, homie. Worse than Lochte and others’ wanton disregard for people’s trust, real human lives were affected and inconvenienced by their lies. Two men, Luis Guilherme, 25, and Matheus Henrique 28, are now suing the Olympic Committee for big money after they were arrested as potential suspects in the fugazi robbery story. The two hardworking, lifelong residents of Racinho (Rio’s largest favela/slum) are being represented by the Rio Advocacy Council and seeking 10 million Brazilian reals (about $3.1 million) from the Olympic Committee for wrongful arrest, racial profiling, physical trauma, mental anguish and more. The RAC believes its case is a strong one. Due to athlete agreements with the Olympic Committee, the committee claims all responsibility for all athletes’ actions while participating in the Olympic Games, in whichever nation it’s being held.
On August 1, Guilherme, a laborer by day, was walking home from work to see his wife and three young children, when Brazilian police forcefully apprehended him, hitting him all over his body with batons and calling him a “disgrace to the nation of Brazil.” On August 5, Henrique, a cab driver with a wife and a newborn baby girl, had a similar experience, except police pistol-whipped him into unconsciousness, while handcuffed in the backseat of the police car. He has experienced slight brain damage due to the assault. The police identified the two men by some rather crude;y nondescript sketches, drawn by Bentz and accepted by law enforcement.
The most egregious aspect of this chain of events is that…..it never happened. These mugshots and sketches are the results of a random Google search for funny police sketches. All jokes aside, Brazilian men of color could very well have gotten fucked up or killed over #LochteGate. Being privileged White male Olympic athletes, Lochte and his conspirators probably didn’t consider that they may have made men of color even more susceptible to police interactions/violence. How many times in the past have we seen White folks make an imaginary Black man the scapegoat for the crimes they commit? Also, I’ve never been to Brazil, but City of God is one of my favorite movies. Though set in the past, if the story of “The Tender Trio” is any indicator of the relationship between police and the Black people living in the favelas of Rio, Lochte surely could’ve gotten someone murdered (remember the scene where cops said they wanted to “exterminate” the “niggers” and all of the innocent people who were killed during the investigation after Lil’ Dice enacted the massacre at the motel). In real life, right before the Olympics kicked off, at least 10 people were killed as police hunted Rio favela crime boss, Nicolas Labre Pereira (better known as “Fat Family) after his soldiers stormed a hospital, where he was being held in custody, with guns and grenades to free their boss. It is unreported how many of the deceased were actually involved in illegal activity. Seems like police would be on a similar hunt for the assailants of Olympic athletes from the United States, in efforts to salvage its reputation.
It may be a reach, but it’s something to consider. Why wouldn’t it happen? Please people, consider your actions and how they may affect others who aren’t involved and don’t deserve the stress and aggravation. What Lochte and the others did wasn’t a simple “white lie.” They didn’t just finesse powerful people out of their confidence. It was an irresponsibly dangerous act that could have had deadly implications for harmless men. Black lives clearly don’t matter to them.