As Brazil's national squad warmed up in São Paulo for the first match of the most expensive World Cup in history, the streets outside the Arena Corinthians and throughout the country were teaming with people protesting FIFA and the Brazilian government.
It was a similar scene to protests last year during the Confederations Cup, also held in Brazil. In host cities as well as non-host cities like Belém in the north, people rallied against the costly investment of public money in preparations for the World Cup instead of in sectors such as education and public health, among other things. According to the Brazilian government, 25 billion reais (11 billion US dollars) was spent on the event.
For protesters, violence from military police was a real worry and has been one ever since a wave of anti-government protests known as the Vinegar Revolt that rocked the country in 2013 was met with a heavy-handed crackdown. In São Paulo, a group of 40 trained volunteers have announced they will be registering and cataloging incidents of police brutality.
The protests on June 12, 2014, followed the trend, and several were injured during confrontations with police, including journalists. Take a look at five of the most notable protests below.
1. SÃO PAULO | Four journalists are injured on the street, and an indigenous teen pulls off a protest inside the stadium.
São Paulo was home to the most violent clashes between police and protesters. Four journalists were injured, including two CNN reporters.
In spite of all security procedures at Itaquerão stadium to deter protest posters, a young indigenous man managed to stage a brief protest on the pitch during the opening ceremony. He and two teenagers, one of African descent and the other of European descent, were invited on as a representation of Brazil's cultural heritage.
For those watching on TV, the teens waved to the crowd as they exited – and that was it. But those in the stadium saw him pull a red banner with the word “Demarcação” (Demarcation), making a public plea for the demarcation of indigenous lands. Photos of the protest were widely shared on social media.
2. PORTO ALEGRE | 15 people are arrested for protesting and a photographer is hit by a police-thrown stun grenade.
In the southern city of Porto Alegre, demonstrations were organized by the group Fighting Block for Public Transport (Bloco de Luta pelo Transporte Público) and gathered between 300 and 1,000 people. The protest started late morning and came to an end when the local military police threw tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd. A photographer who was covering the march was hit by one of the grenades used by police.
Members of the militant anarchist group Black Bloc were roundly criticized for breaking bank windows and vandalizing other commercial properties during the demonstrations.
3. RIO DE JANEIRO | Ten thousand people protest to a Carnival beat, but police ruin the party.
The protest in Rio gathered around 10,000 people downtown. It began peacefully, with protesters playing Carnival music, seen here in this YouTube video:
But according to the collective Independent Media (Mídia Indepedente), police upped the tension between officers and protesters by pushing people and wielding batons. Violence broke out when the group reached the monumental aqueduct in the historical neighborhood of Lapa. At least two independent journalists from Collective Mariachi were reportedly beaten by the police and arrested for throwing trash on the ground.
By the end of the protest, 14 people were arrested and three were injured.
4. BELO HORIZONTE | An independent journalist is arrested and reportedly tortured by five police officers.
While hundreds of people gathered to protest in Belo Horizonte, a Brazilian photographer for Reuters was hit in the head by stones thrown from both protesters and police.
Karinny de Magalhães, an independent journalist working for the collective NINJA, was arrested and reportedly tortured by five police officers. She testified that she heard the officers say that protesters were “the cancer of the world” and they “should all die”. According to her, the military police's use of force showed how unprepared they are to deal with civilians.
5. FORTALEZA | A plainclothes private security officer takes an independent journalist's camera during a protest in front of the FIFA fan fest.
The independent journalism collective Nigéria covered the protest in Fortaleza, and they reported that adults, youth and children of social movements, housing advocacy groups and anti-capitalist groups gathered in front Náutico Beach in an area known for its luxurious hotels and elite condos.
They were monitored closely by a dozen specialized military police officers as they marched the few blocks to reach Iracema Beach, where the local FIFA fan fest was packed with hundreds of spectators. Protesters shouted rallying cries, criticized FIFA’s “exploitative” actions and called for police demilitarization.
There, a group burned a Fuleco – the official World Cup mascot – toy. At some point, police clashed with a number protesters and resorted to tasering some in order to detain them. FIFA private security personnel intervened. One of Nigéria's journalists had his camera hit and taken away by a man in plain clothes, who then tossed it, and another security officer prohibited the journalist from retrieving it.
The collective published footage of the confrontation, including unsuccessful attempts to reclaim the camera: