This story originally appeared in Peoples Dispatch on Dec. 13, 2022. It is shared here with permission.
On Dec. 12, Bolsonaro protesters transformed the center of Brasilia into a war zone, and continued to cause problems for the residents of the city as of Tuesday morning, Dec. 13.
The violence began at the headquarters of the Federal Police, in the center of the capital, in protest against the arrest of the chief Tsererê Xavante, one of the leaders of the coup protests in the Federal District, and who had his arrest decreed by the Federal Supreme Court (STF), at the request of the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), precisely for promoting anti-democratic actions. After that, riots spread elsewhere.
The extremists also destroyed the 5th Police Station (Asa Norte), according to images and videos that circulated on social networks.
The traffic in the central region of the city has several points of congestion, especially around the Eixo Monumental and Avenue W3. The Bus Station of Plano Piloto, the main public transport terminal in the city, is operating normally, but there were delays in the departure of buses from the garages early in the morning. The empty shells of burned buses are still being removed. So far, the Department of Public Safety (SSP-DF) has not revealed whether anyone was arrested, nor has it made an assessment of the extent of the damage.
The acts of violence, captured in viral videos shared on social networks, show criminals setting fire to several buses and private cars. Because of this, in the late night and early morning of Dec. 12 to 13, public transportation was suspended. Workers returning from work and university students were unable to return home.
The Central Student Directory of the University of Brasilia (CDE-UnB) even opened its headquarters, on the Darcy Ribeiro campus, to shelter students who could not return home. A last minute hitchhiking campaign was also organized to guarantee the right to go home for students of the night shift.
Senator-elect Flávio Dino (PSB-MA), who will be the Minister of Justice in the government of President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), said that those responsible for Brasília’s antidemocratic acts will be held accountable to the full extent of the law. He also assured that the safety of Lula, who is staying in a downtown hotel, has not been threatened. Security at the site was reinforced.
In a statement, the Federal Council and the Federal District Section of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB/DF) repudiated the acts of vandalism, destruction of cars and buses, in addition to the attempted invasion of the Federal Police’s public building and a shopping center, as well as the threat to citizens’ safety in the central zone of the capital of the Republic.
“It is necessary to arrest those responsible and act firmly to effectively punish all of them according to the law. Such acts are an attack on democracy and represent an unacceptable escalation of violence. Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies the war scenario we are seeing,” says the note, signed by lawyer José Alberto Simonetti, national president of the OAB.
“The acts of vandalism recorded tonight in Brasilia, carried out by a rabid minority, are absurd. The destruction of public and private property, as well as the blocking of roads, only serve to intensify the scenario of intolerance that permeated part of the election campaign that has just ended. The public security forces must act to repress the unjustified violence in order to restore order and tranquility that we all need to move the country forward,” wrote the president of the Federal Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), in a post on social networks.
This article first appeared in Portuguese on Brasil de Fato.