Brazil's Independence Day celebrations turned violent after protesters disrupted a military parade in Rio de Janeiro. Police fired tear gas at the crowd as it shouted anti-government slogans. Over 100 protests took place across the nation on Saturday.
Demonstrators staged the Rio rally on the downtown avenue where
the military was holding its Seventh of September parade. The
protesters, many of whom wore masks, invaded stands in the parade
area, prompting police to act.
Security forces shot rubber bullets as they chased several demonstrators who escaped through side streets, news site G1 reported.
Spectators, many of them families with children, fled the area in an attempt to avoid tear gas fumes.
The Saturday protest was part of “Operation September 7.” Additional demonstrations, all of which were organized through social media, took place in more than 150 cities across the country. Police detained more than 300 people, Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported.
Clashes were also reported in the capital city of Brasilia, where
President Dilma Rousseff was giving a speech.
Police used pepper spray to hold back a crowd of more than 1,000
demonstrators who marched to Brazil's Congress. The protesters
demanded the ouster of the current government, which they believe
is corrupt, Reuters reported.
Demonstrators were allowed to march along Brasilia’s esplanade
after the military parade, which was led by Rousseff, ended.
Rousseff called on her supporters to also take to the streets in response to the nationwide protests.
A crowd of demonstrators later marched toward Brasilia's brand new US$600 million football stadium, where the Brazilian national team was scheduled to play Australia later on Saturday. The game is intended to be practice for next year’s World Cup, which Brazil will host.
Riot police fired volleys of tear gas to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the stadium.
Hundreds of people also marched in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, on Saturday. The demonstration was largely peaceful.
Brazil’s involvement in the World Cup triggered nationwide protests in June as citizens grew frustrated over the high costs associated with the competition. Most of Brazil’s population struggles with poor healthcare, education, and transport. Demonstrators are also angry about the level of alleged corruption taking place during preparation for the sporting event.