- Nathalia Birdie
- From BBC News Brazil in London
Concerned about the potential for the Sept. 7 protests to be violent, the Supreme Court (STF) laid out plans for “every possible scenario” – from peaceful demonstrations to attempts at depredation and invasion of the building.
Meanwhile, as BBC News Brasil found out, the majority of STF ministers decided to put the brakes on, until next Tuesday (7/9), in decisions that have a direct impact on the federal government, such as those referring to the payment of court orders that may mean spending on public coffers.
The objective would be to avoid “fueling the fire” on the eve of the events called for Independence Day, in defense of the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. Even so, the climate among ministers is one of concern and attention to the adhesion of military police officers to the protests and to Bolsonaro’s reaction in the event of violence or attacks on Congress or the Supreme Court.
The entire STF security force will be present, as usually happens when there are protests on the Esplanade of Ministries. But this time there was an intense dialogue with the Federal District’s Public Security Secretariat to ensure the reinforcement of the DF’s security forces, such as PM, Detran and Civil Police.
According to Supreme Court sources, the ministers will carefully observe the prevalence and strength, during the protests, of anti-democratic messages, such as posters and shouts of order in defense of the closing of the Supreme Court and Congress.
The number of people on the streets will also serve as a thermometer for them to assess the real risks of future attempts at breaking democracy.
Speaking on Thursday, in the resumption of the judgment on the timeframe of indigenous lands, the president of the STF defended “respect for the integrity of democratic institutions and their members” during the demonstrations.
“In a democratic environment, public demonstrations are peaceful. In turn, freedom of expression does not involve violence and threats,” he said.
Magazine and protesters far from Praça dos Três Poderes
To try to mitigate the risk of protesters trying to invade Congress and the Supreme Court, or even throwing homemade bombs on buildings, the DF Government decided to restrict the acts to the Esplanade of Ministries.
This means that the demonstrators will not be able to “go down” the avenue towards Praça dos Três Poderes, where the Palácio do Planalto, the National Congress and the Federal Supreme Court are located.
The decision was seen by members of Congress and the STF as an indication that there is, in the Secretary of Security of the DF, the expectation of protesters trying to destroy public buildings.
According to the DF government, at least 13 pro-Bolsonaro groups and three on the left are expected to promote demonstrations on 7 September.
In addition to blocking the passage to the Praça dos Três Poderes, the security forces will carry out searches to try to intercept bladed weapons, firearms, homemade bombs, glass bottles and other objects that could threaten security.
In communications with the Supreme and Congress security team, the DF government has tried to reassure them about fears that the PM itself operating on the day may act with less commitment in controlling the protests.
To BBC News Brasil, the Federal District Military Police informed that “the actions of the PMDF are based on the observance of human rights and constitutional principles” and that it will act “to ensure the safety of protesters and the integrity of public or private property’ ‘.
If they do not comply with this rule, they can be included in the Military Penal Code for crimes of riot or revolt (when there are two or more involved). And the sentences can reach 20 years in prison in a closed regime.
But a significant number of reserve or off-duty officers are expected to attend the protests.
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