Police fire rubber bullets at unarmed protesters in Curitiba. At least 10 injured.
According to protesters, the violent acts committed by the Paraná Military Police started after an unidentified man shook the entrance gate of the Federal Police building.
Curitiba. Thousands of workers who came to show solidarity with Ex-President Lula were attacked with “moral effect” bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets during the moment when the the former President arrived at the Federal Police headquarters, at 10:30 PM.
One of the many people injured was a child. Several people were hospitalized. There isn’t a final number of injured yet but at least ten people were hospitalized, and there is no clear reason why the attack began against the peaceful solidarity protest which included prayer, speeches and singing.
Athená Oliveira, an activist who witnessed the attack, told the CUT labor union federation that it all started when a man who had nothing to do with the protest infiltrated the crowd and began pushing at the Federal Police gate is if he was trying to enter the building, in order to provoke the police.
“He was wearing jeans and a dark blue t-shirt and he provoked the attack against the protesters, who were peacefully holding a vigil in front of the Federal Police building,” she said.
Another protester who did not want to give her name confirmed that the action began by the police who were inside the Federal Police headquarters, behind one of the building’s gates.
According to the school teacher Cida Reis, at least ten of her colleagues were hospitalized, among them the teacher and union leader Marlei Fernandes. They were treated in the Red Cross and Evangelico hospitals in Curitiba.
“It was horrible and started from nothing. We were very close. When the first bomb went off we didn’t believe what was happening and thought it was fireworks,” she said.
“I saw a lot of injuries”, said the national communications secretary of the CUT, Roni Barbosa, who was making a live broadcast on Facebook when the attack began. “I saw one, two then three bombs go off and we started to back up,” she said. “I saw women and children falling in the commotion. It was on a narrow street. Thousands of people were trapped and had no way to get out, nowhere to run. When we retreated, they continued to launch bomb after bomb. There were street venders at their stands caught in the middle and everyone was getting sick from the tear gas.”
Senator Lindbergh Farias (Workers Party/PT, Rio de Janeiro) was at the scene and said their should be an international complaint against the Parana Military Police. “Everyone here is shocked. I only want to say one thing. We are not going to accept this. We are going to file international complaints about this. It is our right, guaranteed by the constitution, to protest. If someone wants to scare us, they can forget about it. We are going to stay here. People have come here from all over Brazil to protest for freedom for Lula,” he said.
Congressman Marco Maia (PT/Rio Grande do Sul) who was in front of the gate at the Federal Police building, said that he witnessed no motives for the police to begin the attack. “I was calmly looking up at a helicopter when the started launching tear gas and sound bombs at is in a cowardly manner. They attacked children and senior citizens. People were there only and exclusively to see Lula and protest against his unjust imprisonment.”
The Congressman said that the police committed abuses of authority and measures should be taken to punish the responsible parties. “We are going to exhaustively denounce this in Congress and we will complain to the state Security Secretary.” He also said that they will complain to the Federal Government. “I am going to contact the national Security Minister because he is the one ultimately responsible for the acts that were committed here. He knows that it was his responsibility to guarantee the peoples’ safety. There was no problem going on and the protest was peaceful”.
Mayara Oliveira, 25, was in the middle of the crowd when the attack began. “They began to shoot at us. As we were trying to escape several more Military Police cars arrived and they started launching bombs at us. There were a lot of teenagers there and they started clubbing people. It was a lot of bombs and a lot of tear gas. We are sick. There were elderly people and children in the crowd,” she said, sobbing.
The government still hasn’t given an official number for people injured.
This article was written by the CUT communications department, translated by Brasil Wire and can be seen in its original Portuguese here.