Anti World Cup Protest In Brazil Faces Brutality and Mass Arrests

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1393176189_extras_noticia_foton_7_0The message: We need money for hospitals and we do not need to spend it on the World Cup.

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.

1901994_3988820295202_1671676536_n“There will be no Cup!” and “Cup for the rich, scraps for the poor!” chanted the protesters, led by anarchists of the Black Bloc group dressed in black and with covered faces.

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.

1009944_748535245159144_132135605_nSome demonstrators accused the police of heavy-handedness. “Not even a window had been broken when the police started attacking everybody,” said a man who claimed to speak for the protesters.

“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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Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News revnewsmedia@gmail.com