Even before the 7th of September arrived, on Monday night (9/6), pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators had already broken through the first Military Police roadblocks in Brasília, invading the Esplanada dos Ministérios.
They positioned themselves near the Itamaraty Palace, a few meters from the National Congress and the descent that gives access to the Supreme Federal Court (STF) – an institution that is the main target of attacks by supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro.
Even cars and trucks managed to descend halfway down the avenue, despite the fact that vehicles were prohibited from entering the Esplanade during the 7th of September. Videos released by the press and circulating on social networks show that the removal of the containment bars and barricades does not seem to have met with strong resistance.
Few policemen appear in the images, trying to talk to the protesters. In one of the scenes, a protester “slaps” a police officer on the back, who ignores him, keeps walking and following the movement. Meanwhile, a man shouts: “We’ve just invaded, we’ve just invaded. Police can’t handle holding people back!”
In another image, a police car is used to support a Brazilian flag and pro-Bolsonaro posters.
But did the PM allow the invasion of pro-Bolsonaro groups before September 7th? Did the police try to stop protesters from breaking through the roadblocks?
Police did not use non-lethal containment weapons the day before
During the attempt to prevent the protesters from entering the blocked area on Monday, tear gas, pepper spray and other non-lethal resources that the Military Police frequently use in demonstrations on the Esplanade of Ministries and across the country were not used.
In May this year, for example, police officers even used rubber bullets in different cities against demonstrators protesting against Jair Bolsonaro’s government.
Tear gas and pepper spray are commonly used when there are protests near the National Congress, especially when there is an attempt to break through blockades and enter the House or Senate. These non-lethal resources were also widely used in the 2013 demonstrations, during the Dilma Rousseff government.
After the invasion of the Esplanade by pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators on Monday night, the Federal District PMs concentrated on reinforcing another blockade, set up to prevent the passage of Itamaraty to the National Congress and the STF.
Police officers formed a line behind bars and barriers were positioned to prevent access.
The PM told BBC News Brasil that, early Tuesday morning, demonstrators were on the Esplanada dos Ministérios, near Itamaraty, and that there was no new attempt to invade the blockades.
Hours later, however, local media showed footage of military police using pepper spray to quell protesters on the Esplanade.
BBC News Brasil asked the PM-DF and the DF Security Secretariat why it was not possible to contain the blockade and why non-lethal resources, such as spray and tear gas, were not used, but did not receive an answer to the questions until the latest update of this article.
The Public Security Secretariat responded to the e-mail from the BBC with a note in which it limited itself to confirming that there was a hole in the blockade and saying that the “Military Police of the Federal District restored the situation”.
“On the evening of Monday (6), protesters broke containment barriers placed at the beginning of the S1 road to block the traffic of vehicles. At the meetings, held previously with the organizers of the protesting groups, it was defined that the machinery authorized to participate in the popular act would be released to be parked along the N1 road at dawn on Tuesday (7),” said the DF Security Secretariat.
“It is important to emphasize that the authorization allowed only the exhibition of vehicles, as has been done before in other demonstrations. The Military Police of the Federal District restored the situation.”
But, with the hole in the blockade, the protesters became much closer to the STF and the National Congress. Precisely because of the fear of invading these buildings, the DF Security Secretariat had decided days ago to prevent the demonstrators from going down the Esplanade of Ministries, which occurred with the breaking of the containment barriers.
This Tuesday, to try to avoid new holes in the blockades, there was a reinforcement of the military police force, with the call of PMs who were off duty.
Minister ‘commemorates’ invasion
Members of the Bolsonaro government and politicians supporting the president commemorated the advance of the demonstrators on the Esplanade of Ministries, although this meant that the orders established by the Federal District’s Security Secretariat were not complied with.
The Minister of the Comptroller General of the Union, Wagner Rosário, posted a video of the invasion on Twitter and wrote: “It is beautiful to see Brasília being taken over by good people. Orderly people, who only want to live in a fairer, freer and more democratic country . It’s beautiful to see!!! Long live the 7th of September!!!”.
Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP) celebrated the presence of the protesters. “If yesterday it was like this, imagine today!”. This Tuesday morning (7), he asked, however, that the protests should not be violent and that there should be no vandalism.
“On this 7th of September, the people will take to the streets of all over Brazil to fight for FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY. And, as always, we do not defend any violent act, vandalism or any kind of aggression. We will protest in peace, with the strength of working and orderly people.”
The STF minister Alexandre de Moraes, one of the main targets of verbal attacks and threats from pocketnaristas, posted on Twitter that: “empty threats and cowardly aggressions will not keep the Supreme Court from exercising, with respect and serenity, its constitutional mission of defense and maintenance of Democracy and the Rule of Law.”
Have watched our new videos on YouTube? Subscribe to our channel!