Another weekend with protests despite pandemic

Another weekend with protests despite pandemic
Anti-Bolsonaro protest in São Paulo. Photo: Filipe Araujo/FP

Another Sunday, another wave of protests both for and against President Jair Bolsonaro, despite social distancing recommendations. Demonstrations have become common in Brasília and São Paulo since the pandemic arrived in Brazil. Here’s a summary of what happened this weekend:

Far-right fireworks. On Saturday night, a handful of far-right activists — who call themselves “Brazil’s 300” — launched fireworks at the Supreme Court building in Brasília, shouting threats at its 11 justices. In reaction, Governor Ibaneis Rocha defended the Federal District’s Deputy Police Commander, after cops left the far-right group to stage its stunt unbothered. Supreme Court Chief Justice Dias Toffoli said he and his peers “will never subject themselves to any outside pressure,” and Justice Alexandre de Moraes called the group a “true criminal organization.”

  • The governor closed the Esplanade of Ministries on Sunday — as the area has become the stage for routine anti-democratic protests where supporters of Mr. Bolsonaro demand the shutdown of Congress and the Supreme Court. Despite this, a group of 30-plus Bolsonaro supporters staged a demonstration — which was joined by Education Minister Abraham Weintraub. He is currently under investigation for suggesting Supreme Court justices should be jailed.
  • The group was asked to leave and moved to the front of Armed Forces headquarters.

Paulista Avenue. In São Paulo, organized football ultras marched again on the iconic Paulista Avenue in a pro-democracy action against Mr. Bolsonaro. Crowds, however, were much smaller than last week. 

  • The protests were mostly peaceful. However, a group of men — who were not in the demonstration — were detained for displaying neo-Nazi symbols. A reporter from news website UOL was also shoved from behind by a Military Police officer while they were making the arrests.

City Center. A group of around 100 Bolsonaro supporters demonstrated next to the São Paulo City Hall — in the city’s central region. “We are few, but our president said that where there are two or three supporters, he will be present,” said one participant. The group originally intended to hold their demonstration on Paulista Avenue, but the police are alternating the right to use the city’s most traditional protest venue on a weekly basis in order to avoid confrontations.

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