Take a look at the scenes echoing the American riots of January 6
In support of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, rioters in the Brazilian capital stormed the National Congress building, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court on Sunday, January 8, according to photos. The scenes of destruction echoed the January 6 riots at the United States Capitol.
Thousands of Bolsonaro’s right-wing supporters gathered in Brasilia to protest the country’s leftist current president, the Associated Press reported.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva beat outgoing far-right Bolsonaro to win the presidency in October, Al Jazeera reported. Bolsonaro, however, has not conceded defeat and his supporters refuse to accept the election result.
Bolsonaro supporters have been protesting since Lula’s election, but, a week after Lula’s inauguration, protests have intensified in Esplanade of Ministries where Brazil’s three main government buildings – the National Congress, the Presidential Palace and the Supreme Court – are located, AFP reported.
Protesters, many wearing Brazilian flags or similar yellow and green attire, overwhelmed Brazilian security forces who fired tear gas and stun grenadesreports AFP.
Videos on social media showed a limited presence of Capital Security and police “on standby” as rioters stormed the National Congress building, the Associated Press reported.
Rioters smashed windows to enter the government building and ransacked the interior, AFP photos show.
President Lula quickly blamed Bolsonaro for emboldening the rioters with “a campaign of baseless allegations of potential election fraud”, Reuters reported.
“These vandals, who one could call… fanatical fascists, have done what has never been done in the history of this country,” Lula told a news conference translated by Reuters. “All those people who did this will be found and they will be punished.”
Lula also said there was “incompetence or bad faith” on the part of the police, according to an Associated Press translation.
Inside, government buildings were largely empty for the weekend, AFP reported. Rioters entered the presidential palace, or Planalto Palace, smashing windows, knocking over chairs as they spread throughout the building, photos show.
Bolsonaro, who fled to Florida days before his term ended, remained silent for nearly six hours as chaos unfolded in the capital, Al Jazeera reported.
The former president ends up replied on Twitterdenying Lula’s accusations.
Bolsonaro also said the peaceful protest was part of the democratic protest, but that “the depredations and invasions of public buildings as happened today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule,” according to a translation by the Independent. The outlet noted that Bolsonaro made no “specific mentionto the rioters in Brasilia.
Another photo shows overturned sofas and strewn debris as rioters stand on an elevated stage. Pieces of the ceiling hang down and, in the background, graffiti messages are seen sprayed on the windows.
No injuries or deaths were reported, according to Reuters.
The riots lasted just over three hours, Al Jazeera reported. Police in riot gear entered government buildings and chased away the rioters. A photo taken through a shattered window showed police about to enter the presidential palace.
Bolsonaro supporters also ransacked palace offices, photos show. Rioters also flooded parts of Congress with a sprinkler, Reuters reported.
At the Supreme Court, rioters overturned the table where the justices sit, punctured a “priceless” painting five times and ripped a door off a judge’s office, the Independent reported.
The riots were met with a swift military crackdown, The Independent reported. As many as 1,200 people have been arrested in connection with the incident, the outlet reported.
The riots in the Brazilian capital – which Reuters described as “the worst attack on state institutions since the country returned to democracy in the 1980s” – echoed scenes at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump took stormed Congress and left a similar trail of destruction.