Ri­ot po­li­ce Bra­zil use pep­per spray at aus­te­ri­ty pro­test

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

BRA­ZIL - Rio de Jan­ei­ro ri­ot po­li­ce fired tear gas and stun gre­na­des on Wed­nes­day in­to an an­gry crowd pro­tes­ting pro­po­sed aus­te­ri­ty me­a­su­res. Mo­re than 2,000 pe­o­p­le, ran­ging from tea­chers to off du­ty po­li­ce of­fi­cers, fa­ced off against eli­te Shock Bat­ta­li­on po­li­ce out­si­de the sta­te le­gis­la­tu­re in the cen­tre of Rio. They blew whist­les and chan­ted calls for the re­sig­na­ti­on of Rio sta­te Gover­nor Luiz Fer­nan­do Pe­zao who is pus­hing bud­get cuts in res­pon­se to ne­ar­ly emp­ty pu­blic cof­fers.

“Pu­blic ser­vants won’t pay for the cri­sis!” read ban­ners. A hand­ful of pro­tes­ters threw sto­nes at the ranks of po­li­ce who we­re pro­tec­ted by shields.

Po­li­ce stood be­hind two me­tal bar­riers pro­tec­ting the steps of the le­gis­la­tu­re but retre­a­ted when a group of de­mon­stra­tors ma­na­ged to break down the first fen­ce.

The skir­mish trig­ge­red mo­re than an hour of un­suc­ces­sful at­tempts by po­li­ce to dis­per­se the gro­wing num­ber of pro­tes­ters in the ave­nue out­si­de. Of­fi­cers fired do­zens of stun gre­na­des and tear gas ca­nis­ters at the ge­ner­al­ly pea­ce­ful de­mon­stra­ti­on, on oc­ca­si­on ai­ming ho­ri­zon­tal­ly in­to the crowd.

“That went right past my head!” shou­ted one man as he fled along with hund­reds of other pe­o­p­le from the clouds of tear gas swir­ling down the palm-li­ned street in the bu­si­ness dis­trict.

“Sha­me, sha­me,” chan­ted the crowd as po­li­ce rein­for­ce­ments ar­ri­ved - first a wa­ter can­non truck, then about 20 ri­ot po­li­ce on hor­se­back. The wa­ter can­non was al­so brought in­to ac­ti­on, promp­ting chants of “co­wards!”

Among the aus­te­ri­ty me­a­su­res un­der exa­mi­na­ti­on is an in­crea­se in the 11 per cent wit­h­hol­dings from pu­blic ser­vants’ pen­si­ons to 14 per­cent. An in­crea­se of as much as 30 per cent has pre­vious­ly been con­si­de­red.

The sta­te govern­ment, which has ba­re­ly en­ough mo­ney to pay ma­ny pu­blic em­ploy­ees or keep hos­pi­tals func­ti­o­ning, could al­so rai­se trans­port and uti­li­ties costs, as well as cut­ting sub­si­dies for the poor. The iro­ny of govern­ment em­ploy­ees clas­hing with po­li­ce who are al­so strug­gling to get their full sa­la­ries and even ba­sic fun­ding for po­li­ce sta­ti­ons was not lost on de­mon­stra­tors.

“It’s po­li­ce at­tac­king po­li­ce,” said one off-du­ty of­fi­cer in dis­be­lief as he retre­a­ted from ano­ther tear gas at­tack.


A Bra­zi­li­an po­li­ce­man sprays tear­gas against pro­tes­tors. (Pho­to: EPA)

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