Thousands of people in Brazil took the streets again this weekend in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to protest President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, including its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the protests, scattered across the country’s major cities, people chanted and carried signs bearing slogans like “Black Lives Matter” and “Bolsonaro needs to go.”
About 3,000 people attended a rally in Sao Paulo to criticize the federal government and to protest violence against black Brazilians by police forces, said Brazil’s Military Police. Protesters lay on the ground, shouting “I can’t breathe” — George Floyd’s last words before he died in Minneapolis two weeks ago.
Demonstrations also took place in the country’s capital, Brasilia, and other cities like Porto Alegre, Recife and Fortaleza. Protesters on the streets were joined by local residents who banged pans and pots from their balconies, while passing drivers blasted their horns in solidarity.
Raull Santiago, one of the protest organizers in Rio de Janeiro, said on Twitter that leaving home in the middle of a pandemic was a difficult but necessary decision.
“We, the people that live in the favelas, do not accept having as our only option to choose between being shot or [getting] infected by the virus. Today is an important day in the fight against the genocide of black people,” he said.
Bolsonaro’s response: Last Friday, Bolsonaro condemned participants in anti-government and anti-racism demonstrations as “thugs” and “terrorists,” words also used by his American counterpart, Donald Trump, to describe the protesters in the United States.
He said the demonstrations could draw a violent response from law enforcement and warned Brazilians to stay at home Sunday, “so that the security forces — not just state but also federal — can do their duty in case these thugs go beyond the limits of the law. ”