By Kristen Nozell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Teacher’s Day protests held in Rio’s downtown area on Tuesday night once again ended in violence, with two police officers and six demonstrators sustaining injuries, while one 18-year-old man was shot in both forearms. The confrontation between police and protesters after the peaceful demonstration also caused substantial damage to private and government property.
Eighteen-year-old Rodrigo Gonçalves Azoubel did not hear the gunfire and did not even feel the bullets, but soon noticed that his arms were bleeding. He was first treated by medical students volunteering as rescuers at the demonstration, at the corner of Avenida Rio Branco and Rua Santa Luzia, in Rio’s busy Centro.
He was then admitted to the São Vicente Clinic in Gávea at 9:28 PM, where he underwent surgery for fractures in both forearms. According to the clinic, he is now in stable condition.
What began as a peaceful demonstration by reportedly thousands of schoolteachers and their supporters turned into chaos after the protest, which was one of the larger demonstrations in recent weeks, officially ended at 8PM. Clashes with the police then began, particularly with masked Black Bloc participants.
By the end of the night, two officers and six protesters were wounded, and according to OAB (the Order of Attorneys of Brazil), 208 people were arrested and taken to ten different precincts around the city. Private and public property was also damaged: a police car was set on fire in the Zona Sul (Zona Sul) neighborhood of Glória and the windows of a bus were smashed. The windows of the American consulate were also hit, most likely by rubber bullets, according to reports.
The use of firearms that left Azoubel with two shots to his forearms represents a significant turning point in the protests, as no lethal weapons have been reportedly involved until this point. It is unclear as to who shot the weapon, but in video footage from Bom Dia Rio (Globo TV), three men can be seen shooting from behind a newsstand.
These protests come just one week after a peaceful demonstration in support of striking schoolteachers in Rio’s Centro ended in violence after police officers clashed with masked protesters. At the time, individuals believed to be connected to the Black Bloc set fire to a bus and also threw rock and molotov cocktails at the U.S. Consulate downtown.
Brazil saw a wave of unprecedented countrywide demonstrations demanding more adequate public services in June and July.
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