CNN: Protesters, police clash in demonstration against bus fare increases in Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil — Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds when thousands of people took to the streets of Sao Paulo on Thursday night to protest an increase in bus and metro fares.
At least 100 people were injured and more than 120 were arrested in the violent clashes, occurring exactly one year before the World Cup kicks off in Brazil’s financial capital.
It was the latest in a string of protests staged in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other cities over the last week aimed at getting officials to revoke recent increases in public transportation costs.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 protesters gathered in front of the Municipal Theater in downtown Sao Paulo at 5 p.m. and then started marching through the streets, where a huge police presence waited.
For the first time in this series of protests, Sao Paulo deployed riot police.
When police began to fire tear gas and rubber bullets, protesters shouted “fascist police” and ran in different directions.
Protesters said no warning was given before the tear gas and bullets were used. A CNN team also did not hear any warnings or demands to stop before the measures were taken.
In previous marches, the government has accused protesters of initiating violence, and protesters have said police used excessive violence to try to stop marchers.
On Tuesday night, protesters set a bus on fire and smashed the windows of at least nine banks. On Thursday night, CNN witnessed protesters spraying walls with graffiti and throwing rocks.
The daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported that seven of its reporters were shot with rubber bullets.
A witness saw police shoot Giuiliana Vallone and told the paper: “When she told me to get out of the way because of the chaos, a policeman looked and cowardly shot her.”
Another TV reporter told CNN that she and her crew were deliberately sprayed with pepper spray by police when they filmed them arresting protesters.
The marchers were protesting an increase in bus and metro fares to 3.20 reais ($1.55) from 3 reais.
“For a lot of us, it’s just the final straw,” said a metro operator who was participating in the march. “We just pay more and more for something that isn’t worth it.”