This article analyzes community activism and state interventionism within a context of racialized and gendered violence that is both direct/physical and structural. It presents a case study of Manguinhos, a cluster of favelas in Rio de Janeiro experiencing the federal Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), which provided political opportunities for community contentions. A main finding is that an oligarchic-patrimonial system suppressed the participatory-democratic aspirations of the federal government and local activists alike. Nevertheless, new rounds of activism keep surging against a prevailing military-repressive logic. Observations and interviews from fieldwork have been supplemented with written sources—relevant public documents, media sources, and research publications.