By George Utley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The area outside the FIFA FanFest in Copacabana, Zona Sul (South Zone) was the setting for two protests yesterday (June 23rd) afternoon, which merged into one and continued marching together. The authorities estimate only three hundred were involved but a heavy police presence and at least one violent arrest had some claiming brutality.
The first was a march against police violence, populated mainly by people from surrounding favelas; most notably Pavão-Pavãozinho, Cantagalo and Chapéu Mangueira. The second group of activists, marching against FIFA, consisted mainly of Copacabana residents.
The two groups met at the corner of Rua Hilário de Gouveia and Avenida Atlântica. With hundreds of people in the street, waving placards and banners and singing anti-UPP and anti-FIFA chants, the police were forced to divert the march away from the FanFest, as the Brazil vs Cameroon match was about to kick off. The crowds were redirected up Rua Souza de Lima, causing a brief closure on the main thoroughfare of Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana.
Many members of the international press left their posts at the FanFest in order to cover the protests. They were joined by several tourists, taking photos and filming on their mobile phones. Other Copacabana residents voiced their support for the demonstrators from their apartment windows.
Many demonstrators stopped at the foot of Pavão-Pavãozinho favela, where an activist announced into a megaphone the names of people killed in confrontations with the police, with the crowd responding “present!”
The UPP at Pavão-Pavãozinho called in reinforcements to secure the area, but no large confrontations were reported. It is understood that one man was arrested during the protests, refusing to hand his banner over to a Police officer.
Some of the banners at the protest read: “The party in the stadiums is not worth the tears in the favelas;” “We want justice;” and “We don’t need a World Cup, we need better education.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
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