Riot in Rio Lands Teachers in Detention


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Riot in Rio Lands Teachers in Detention

Protesters got angry and the police got punitive.

On Tuesday evening, while England fans celebrated their country's qualification for next year's Brazilian World Cup, the streets of Brazil were once again suffocated by clouds of tear gas and acrid smoke.

Every October the 15th, Brazil celebrates Teacher's Day. Sensing an opportunity to actually make something of the annual, otherwise mostly pointless celebration, Brazil's teachers organised mass protests across the country, calling for better salaries and rallying against a proposed new career plan that they say will make the already-dismal situation in Rio's public schools even worse.


This Tuesday, more than 5,000 protesters gathered in central Rio, forcing the cops to draft in extra reinforcements to police the area. The majority of the demo was peaceful, but after a few hours smaller breakaway groups started to attack banks, shops and government buildings, before eventually clashing with police.

After hours of clashes, a boy had been hospitalised after being hit by two stray bullets, and 190 people were arrested – the majority of whom were set free, with only 84 ending up being formally charged. The new Organised Crime Law was used, conveniently, to charge 27 of those detained with crimes against public property, conspiracy, theft and arson.

After filling up all of their arrest wagons, police resorted to using Rio's public buses to transport arrestees to their cells for the night. All of those buses happen to belong to Jacob Barata, a businessman who's friendly with both Rio's governor and mayor, and – for whatever reason – has never volunteered the use of his bus fleet to transport people to safety at any of the times the city has flooded in the past few years.

The country's teaching staff had already been on strike for 60 days before Tuesday's protest, and clashes between police and protesters had also broken out the previous week, with a demonstration descending into violence and the local press doing everything in their power to frame the protesters' acts of frustration as wanton vandalism.


But media scrutiny and heavy policing don't appear to be stunting the teachers' fight. They recently won an injunction in court to nullify the votes in favour of the new career plan, but that injunction was overturned last night by the Justice Court of Rio, meaning there's still everything to protest against and a lot of people still standing in their way.

Follow Matias on Twitter: @MATIASMAXX

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