Brazilian police fired tear gas and arrested hundreds on Saturday as they dispersed a crowd in Sao Paulo that protested expenditures for the World Cup tournament.
About 1,000 protesters took to the streets in what was initially a peaceful expression of anger over the $11 billion (eight billion euros) Brazil is spending to host the Cup, the world’s premier football event.
The unrest comes four months before the World Cup opening game is played in the city’s Arena de Sao Paulo on June 12.
As of midnight, military police in Sao Paulo reported 230 arrests in a Twitter message. Among those arrested were five journalists, the O Estado de Sao Paulo daily reported.
Several protesters said that the clash began when police refused to let them continue marching.
Police attacked with firing stun grenades, tear gas and physical violence to silence the voices gathered to express their outrage.
“I came to protest against the World Cup,” said Fernanda Moreira, 19. “They spent millions on stadiums and have given us nothing for health or education,” she told AFP.
“The government is trying to make believe that Brazil is all cheer and carnival, but it’s not like that. This is a very unequal country,” added Lucas Souza, also 19.
A February 6 protest in Rio de Janeiro ended tragically with the death of a television cameraman, killed when he was struck in the head by a flare.
Last year’s demonstrations started off in Sao Paulo in response to transport fare hikes but quickly spread, drawing more than a million people into the streets with anger over expenditures to host the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio an underlying theme.
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Brazilian Riot Police Forcibly Evict 350 Families
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January 27th. The streets of 36 cities in Brazil carried the echoes of chants against the injustice, the violence, and the corruption the government has unleashed on the people of Brazil – particularly the poor people in the slums and on indigenous communities – on behalf of FIFA’s World Cup.“No Cup.” “There will be no Cup.” “Don’t come to Brazil.” “FIFA go home.”
Witnesses say that on Saturday, people protested peacefully until cops attacked. As usual, the cops came looking for a riot, and started one.
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