Protests Expand In Brazil, Fueled By Video Of Police Brutality

As my colleague Simon Romero reports from São Paulo, more than 200,000 Brazilians filled the streets of cities across the country on Monday, in protests against the high cost of living and lavish spending on soccer stadiums ahead of next year’s World Cup that have intensified as images of police brutality against peaceful protesters spread on social networks.

While the dynamic of heavy-handed police tactics, like the use of pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters, magnifying rather than quelling dissent echoes recent events in Turkey — not to mention those in New York, Oakland, Spain, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 — some of the images of the police crackdown that stirred the most anger on social networks were captured not by protesters or foreign correspondents but by reporters for local newspapers and television stations.

One striking account of the violence used on protesters last week in Brazil’s largest city, in a video viewed more than a million times on YouTube, was narrated by Giuliana Vallone, a reporter for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo’s Web site who was shot in the eye at point-blank range by one of the police “shock troops” deployed against the protesters.

On Monday, as protests spread across Brazil, video clips shot for the Web site of another newspaper, O Estadão de São Paulo, showed protesters in the national capital Brasilía, dancing and singing on the distinctive modernist roof of Congress after they had broken through police lines.

Other images of the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters were shot on the phones and cameras of bystanders or participants in the demonstrations. One clip posted on YouTube by a blogger named José Almuiña, showing the sudden use of force against protesters kneeling in a street near the recently renovated Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, has already been viewed more than 450,000 times.

That attack, by officers from the Batalhão de Choque on protesters singing the national anthem and waving Brazilian flags, came as the stadium was being used for a match in the Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup.

Similarly heavy handed tactics used against protesters who gathered outside the new national stadium in Brasilía before the opening match of the Confederations Cup on Saturday. Video of police officers using force against seated, placard-waving protesters — one read, “We Left Facebook,” a reference to the fact that the protests were organized online — was captured by onlookers and posted on YouTube and Vimeo.

New York Times

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