Police cordon blocks demonstration in São Paulo. Photo: Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil

On the night of this Thursday (13), São Paulo once again became the stage of war, in the fourth demonstration organized by the Movimento Passe Livre, which demands the reduction of fares for public transport in the city, readjusted on June 1. The protest march began in front of the Municipal Theater, at Praça Ramos de Azevedo, in downtown São Paulo, around 17:30 pm.

About 40 people were arrested by the police and searched in a cordon in the Praça do Patriarca, even before the beginning of the demonstrations. Among those arrested was journalist Piero Locatelli, from the magazine Capital letter, apprehended, like the vast majority, for carrying a container with vinegar. The product is being used to mitigate the effects of tear gas, but, according to the Military Police, it can also be used in the manufacture of homemade bombs. Locatelli was released about an hour later.

Luiza Sigulem, photographer at Brazilian, even identified as a press professional, was also arrested. Another 235 arrests were made during the act. There were also more than a hundred injured. On the morning of this Friday (14), four protesters remain in prison, on charges of forming a gang, a crime that cannot be bailed out, and should be transferred this afternoon to maximum security prisons.

Upon registering the arrest of a protester, our photographer, Luiza Sigulem, was surrendered by the PM and detained for about half an hour. (see video above)

According to reports from protesters, and also from four members of our report who covered the demonstrations, the march continued peacefully until it reached the intersection of Rua da Consolação and Rua Maria Antônia, near Praça Roosevelt.

The clashes began when a group of the Tropa de Choque attacked the protesters who intended to head to Avenida Paulista. Hours earlier, members of the Military Police and the Tropa de Choque prepared a strategic action to isolate several blocks of the Paulista to prevent protesters from accessing them.

What followed, from then on, was a pitiful and atrocious episode of action and reaction. On the same corner where the conflicts broke out, a group of journalists was attacked by the Shock Troop (see video below).

Among the professionals was photographer Sergio Silva, from the Futura Press agency, who was hit in the left eye and is at risk of losing his sight. He remains hospitalized at Hospital 9 de Julho and will have to undergo surgery, but has less than a 5% chance of recovering his vision. Mauro Campos, clinical director of Hospital de Olhos Paulista, who assisted the photographer, attested that Silva has eye injuries and orbit fractures.

Photographer Fábio Braga and reporter Giuliana Vallone, from the newspaper Folha de S. Paul, were also attacked. Giuliana was cowardly hit in the right eye, almost at point-blank range, according to a lady who helped her, for recommending to pedestrians unrelated to the demonstration to protect themselves and disperse from the place.

Another six newspaper employees were arrested or beaten. This fact led to a change in the tone of the vehicle in its coverage of the protests. Yesterday, the headline of Folha de S. Paul warned "Government of São Paulo says it will be tougher against vandalism”. In an editorial printed on the next page, the newspaper reinforced the chorus of a significant part of the mainstream press that repression was necessary to contain the alleged “vandalism” of the protesters, "young people predisposed to violence by a pseudo-revolutionary ideology”, said the editorial, which also legitimized the action of the Police: “As far as vandalism is concerned, there is only one way to combat it: the force of law.” After “feeling in the flesh” the truculent action of the Tropa de Choque, the newspaper retreated and published the following headline today: “Police react with violence to protest and SP lives a night of chaos”.

Notorious practitioners of world-dog journalism on TV and defenders of the Military Police, even anchors like José Luiz Datena, from Brazil Urgent, from Band, and Marcelo Rezende, from Alert City, from Record, retreated and questioned the excesses committed by the PM.

In the position of the Secretary of Public Security of the State of São Paulo, Fernando Grella Vieira, the traditional “excesses will be punished” was added to the defense of the corporation: “The commitment of the police is to guarantee the demonstration. At the same time, the police have to prevent acts of abuse, criminal acts, and that is what they have done.”

Ironically, during the demonstration, a video quickly shared by the thousands on the social network Facebook caught a police officer smashing the side window of a police car in an apparent attempt to add to the flagrant vandalism and depredation.

According to the PM, yesterday's protest gathered about 5 protesters. Despite the strong repression and the various cordons of isolation, part of the group managed to reach Avenida Paulista and concentrated in the region of the Trianon-Masp subway station, which was invaded by about 200 police officers to “hunt” protesters who sought to disperse the group, as the illustrator Raquel Krügel testified to this report.

Soon after dissipating the crowd again, around 22:30 pm, a group of unidentified police officers assaulted a couple drinking beer in a bar located on the corner of Avenida Paulista and Alameda Casa Branca. The photo that captures the aggressions of the student couple Gabriela Lacerda, 24, and Raul Longhini, 20, appears today on the cover of Folha de S. Paul.

On the morning of this Friday, the international repercussion of the protests and the violent action of the PM was inevitable. the french newspaper Le Monde emphasized that the conflicts took place three days before the start of the Confederations Cup. The Spanish El País highlighted the fact that, even before the march started, 40 people had been arrested.

For the American newspaper The New York Times, the manifestations are symptomatic of an ongoing instability. “The protests come at a delicate time when political leaders are grappling with concerns about high inflation, sluggish economic growth and trying to promote Brazil as a safe and stable destination ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. .”

In a press conference held yesterday, at 23:30 pm, shortly after the protests ended, Mayor Fernando Haddad (PT-SP) admitted excesses by the PM: “On Tuesday (day of the third act), I think the image that remained was the of the violence of the protesters. Unfortunately, today, there is no doubt that the image that remained was that of police violence”.

Governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB-SP), on the other hand, repeated the speech that the demonstrations are promoted by vandals. “The population is peaceful, what we have are leaders of movements that set fire to buses and destroy public and private heritage.”

Governor and mayor did not give in and, despite the recommendation of the Public Ministry to suspend the increase for 45 days to dialogue with the protesters and reach a consensus, a suggestion expressed on Wednesday (12), everything remains the same.

The protesters promise a new protest next Monday, the 17th. The new march will begin at 17 pm, in Largo da Batata, in Pinheiros. So far, the event that is being organized on the social network Facebook, announces the confirmation of 75 thousand participants.

Last night, there were similar protests in Rio de Janeiro, which also resulted in violent repression, and in Porto Alegre, where around 2 protesters showed support for the São Paulo protests – in the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, after pressure from thousands of students, at the beginning In April, the increase in bus fare, which cost R$ 2,85 and was readjusted to R$ 3,05, was suspended by a court injunction issued by the 5th Court of the Public Treasury.

Mayor Fernando Haddad formalized, this afternoon, an invitation for representatives of the Free Pass Movement to participate in an extraordinary meeting of the City Council next Tuesday, June 18th. Comprised of 136 members from various social movements, the council discusses and proposes solutions to the city's problems. However, Haddad has already made it clear that the call does not indicate that the City Hall will go back and reduce the value of tickets in the city.

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