By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Protests in response to the recent deaths of two Niterói residents turned violent on Saturday, April 19th as at least four buses and three cars were set on fire in the city located across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro.
According to the Niterói‘s 12th BPM (Military Police Battalion), protesters used barricades to block access to the city’s Morro da Caixa D’Água, part of the community of Complexo do Caramujo during the early hours of Saturday.
The move was in protest of the recent deaths of two young residents: twenty-year-old Anderson Luiz Santos da Silva and a seventeen-year-old community member. Santos da Silva suffered fatal gunshot wounds to the head on April 18th in Morro do Caramujo while he reportedly tried to shield his family during a shootout between police and drug traffickers.
The incident occurred shortly after Santos da Silva’s friends and family attended an Easter vigil held at the city’s Our Lady of Nazareth Church. The victim’s sister, age nine, was reportedly grazed by a bullet and hospitalized for observation in the neighboring city of São Gonçalo.
Police stated that the traffickers were responsible for the shooting, which took place after a 12th Battalion operation ended a baile funk (funky party) in Niterói’s Mundo Novo, where traffickers were present.
The second death also occurred on Friday, when the seventeen-year-old community member left his home and collided with a Military Police Shock Battalion tank while riding his motorcycle in the area of Morro do Céu in the Complexo do Caramujo.
The protests on Saturday began shortly after Silva da Santos’ burial. Protesters reportedly stopped a Real Brasil bus en route to Morro da Caixa D’Água, demanded that the passengers exit and then set the bus ablaze. Two additional buses were set ablaze on Niterói’s Amaral Peixoto highway and three at a local car dealership.
Officials rerouted other buses and traffic as they shut down the Amaral Peixoto Highway for three hours. Traffic in the region is now reportedly normal.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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