What led up to the attack on Brazil’s government?

7. What happened in Brasilia?

On Jan 8, thousands of rioters, many draped in Brazilian flags or wearing the yellow and green national jersey, stormed congress, the presidential palace and the supreme court, leaving a trail of destruction.

Journalists and police officers were attacked and historic buildings were vandalised.

Furniture was thrown through the windows of the palaces. In the supreme court, chairs of the justices were tossed about, while the door of the closet in which Judge Moraes’ robes were kept was torn off. Videos shared on the Internet showed the vandals carrying the piece of wood with the justice’s name as if it were a trophy. Works of art were torn or scratched, including the painting As mulatas, by the renowned 20th-century painter Di Cavalcanti. 

8. What was the reaction to the attack? 

After the rioters roamed freely for around three hours, members of the military police started clearing the buildings. It took another four hours for the area to become completely free of attackers.

Mr Lula, who was in Sao Paulo state to examine damage from heavy rains, gave an angry speech in which he declared an emergency intervention in the Federal District government. He vowed that those who participated in the riot or helped finance the event would be punished and denounced Mr Bolsanaro as its cause.

After the rioters were removed from the buildings, Mr Bolsonaro condemned what he called “depredations and invasions of public buildings”, but said the event was similar to “acts done by the left in 2013 and 2017”. In both those years, there were large but much less violent public protests.

Mr Bolsonaro repudiated Mr Lula’s charge of his involvement. At the same time, Judge Moraes suspended the governor of the Federal District, a Bolsonaro supporter, for 90 days and the next day ordered that the encampments in front of army headquarters be removed, a process that led to about 1,500 arrests. 


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