Big street barbecue for the distinct people
In São Paulo, just like in many other metropolitan regions, public transport is not as effective as it could be. Buses and trains usually run overcrowded, late and on limited hours, so that owning a car increases a lot one’s comfort. But not everybody can afford to have one, so a clear and recurrent class distinction occurs: public transport is mostly used by poor people.
Probably not many inhabitants of Higienópolis, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods, really know how the city’s subway system is like. However, they promptly reacted against the plans to build a station there. Ignoring the workers and commuters that would be benefited from this station, they created a petition against it, claiming that “undesirable events” would be brought to the region.
Interviewed by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, one resident said the station would attract “drugged, homeless and distinct people” [gente diferenciada, in Portuguese]. The expression she used quickly became a trending topic on Twitter and a reason for protests and jokes.
That was when Danilo Saraiva creatively set up on Facebook an event called “Churrascão da Gente Diferenciada”, or the “big street barbecue of the distinct people”. He invited people to join him in this really popular celebration to occur exactly where that subway station would be.
The description presented many symbols of less wealthy spaces: "Go, bring food, cat meat, your dog, your parrot, your mobile sound system, your car and everything else your social consciousness allows. After all, the street is a public space and Higienópolis is not isolated by walls".
Danilo did not expect to be taken seriously, but his joke was so funny and direct that it quickly viralized. At the end, around 56,000 people answered that they were “going”, more than 7,000 set their status as “maybe” and other 156,000 left the invitation open.
The manifestation really occurred on May 15th, 2011, at the corner between the streets Sergipe and Angélica. The event lasted 6 hours and although the military police said that 600 people took part on it, there are enough evidences to prove that this number was actually around 4,000.
Many different media channels covered the protest before, during and after it happened. The joke became really popular and the inhabitants of Higienópolis were deeply criticized. However, there was no impact on the decision the Metropolitan Transport Company (Metrô) had already taken.