After supporters of the country’s former leader, Jair Bolsonaro, broke into Congress, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said he would punish them. People who backed the far-right leader who was kicked out also broke into the Supreme Court and surrounded the presidential palace.
But after hours of fighting, police took back control of the buildings in the capital city of Brasilia on Sunday evening. When Lula got to the city, he went to the Supreme Court building to see for himself how bad the damage was. The Civil Police of Brasilia said that 300 people have been caught.
The Supreme Court has taken Ibaneis Rocha’s job as governor of the city for 90 days. Justice Alexandre de Moraes said that he didn’t do enough to stop the riot and that he was “painfully silent” during the attack. Mr. Rocha has said he’s sorry for what happened on Sunday.
Left-wing leaders and groups all over Brazil are calling for pro-democracy rallies. A week after Lula was sworn in as president, thousands of protesters wearing yellow Brazil football shirts and flags ran over police and trashed the center of the Brazilian government.
The veteran left-wing leader had to call a state of emergency and send the national guard into the capital to get things back in order. He also said that the main street where government buildings are located and the center of the capital should be closed for 24 hours.
Justice Minister Flavio Dino said that about 40 buses that protesters had used to get to the capital had been taken. He also said that the invasion was a “ridiculous attempt to force [the protesters’] will.” Mr. Bolsonaro has refused to accept that he lost the election in October, and he left the country last week instead of taking part in inauguration ceremonies where he would have handed over the presidential sash.
The 67-year-old, who is thought to be in Florida, wrote on Twitter about six hours after the violence started that he was against the attack and said he didn’t encourage the rioters. Before he got to Brasilia, Lula said that what was going on there was “unprecedented in the history of our country.” He called the violence “acts of vandals and fascists.”
He also took aim at the security forces, which he said were “incompetent, bad faith, or malicious” for not stopping protesters from getting into Congress. “You’ll see in the pictures that the police officers are leading people to Praca dos Tres Powers,” he said. “We’ll find out who paid these vandals to go to Brasilia, and they’ll all have to pay with the force of the law.”
The Brazilian news site O Globo shared a video of some officers laughing and taking pictures together while protesters occupied the campus of the Congress in the background. Some protesters broke windows, while others got to the Senate chamber and jumped on seats and used benches as slides.
Videos on social media show protesters pulling a police officer off his horse and attacking him outside the building. National media showed footage of police holding dozens of protesters in yellow shirts outside the presidential palace.
You can also see other suspects being led out of the building with their hands tied behind their backs. Since the morning, protesters had been gathering on the grass in front of the parliament and up and down the Esplanada avenue, which is lined with government buildings and national monuments.
Even with what the protesters did, security seemed tight in the hours before the chaos. Roads were closed for about a block around the parliament area, and pairs of armed police guarded every entrance into the area. The BBC saw about 50 police officers on Sunday morning local time. Cars were being turned away at entry points, and police checked the bags of people entering on foot.
When reporters asked protesters to explain what they were doing, they did so quickly. Lima, a 27-year-old production engineer, said, “After this rigged election, we need to get things back in order.” She told AFP, “I’m here for history and for my daughters.” Others in the capital were outraged by the violence and said the attack was a sad day for the country.
Daniel Lacerda, 21, told the BBC, “I voted for Bolsonaro, but I don’t agree with what they’re doing.” “If you don’t like the president, you should say so and move on. You shouldn’t go to protests and start fighting like they are.” Many people are comparing it to what supporters of Donald Trump, a friend of Mr. Bolsonaro, did to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In cities all over Brazil, people who support Bolsonaro set up camps, some of which were near military barracks. That’s because his biggest fans want the military to step in and fix elections they say were stolen.
Lula’s inauguration seemed to stop their movement. The camps in Brasilia had been taken down, and there were no problems on the day he was sworn in. But what happened on Sunday shows that those predictions were wrong.
Katy Watson, the BBC’s South America correspondent, says that some protesters aren’t just upset that Jair Bolsonaro lost the election; they also want President Lula to go back to jail. After being found guilty of corruption in 2017, he went to prison for 18 months. After being sentenced to more than nine years, his convictions were later thrown out.
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