At least 170 people were arrested after supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed government offices, CNN reported citing CNN Brasil. Police said the authorities have taken control of three main government buildings — the Supreme Court, the presidential palace and Congressional buildings.
According to the police, the government buildings involved in Monday’s breach have been cleared of protesters. The executive secretary of the Brazilian Justice Minister, Ricardo Cappelli, vowed to punish all those involved in breaching government buildings.
“I’m in the field, walking on the streets and personally commanding the security forces, fulfilling the mission I received from the President of the Republic. Nobody will go unpunished. The democratic rule of law will not be walled up by criminals,” CNN quoted Ricardo Cappelli as saying.
Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who refuse to accept his election defeat stormed Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in the capital on Sunday, a week after the inauguration of his leftist rival, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Thousands of demonstrators bypassed security barricades, climbed on roofs, smashed windows, and invaded all three buildings, which were believed to be largely vacant and sit on Brasilia’s vast Three Powers Square.
Some of them called for a military intervention to either restore the far-right Bolsonaro to power, or oust Lula from the presidency.
In a news conference from Sao Paulo state, Lula said Bolsonaro had encouraged the uprising by those he termed “fascist fanatics,” and he read a freshly signed decree for the federal government to take control of security in the federal district.
“There is no precedent for what they did and these people need to be punished,” Lula said.
TV channel Globo News showed protesters wearing the green and yellow colors of the national flag that also have come to symbolize the nation’s conservative movement, and were adopted by Bolsonaro’s supporters.
The former president has repeatedly sparred with Supreme Court justices, and the room where they convene was trashed by the rioters. They sprayed fire hoses inside the Congress building and ransacked offices at the presidential palace. Windows were broken in all of the buildings.
Bolsonaro, who flew to Florida ahead of Lula’s inauguration, has not commented on Sunday’s events.
Police fired tear gas to try to regain control of the buildings. About 6:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. EST), less than four hours after the storming, security forces were shown on television backing protesters away from the Supreme Court and marching them down a ramp to the presidential palace with their hands secured behind their backs.
But with the damage already done, many in Brazil were questioning how the police had ignored abundant warnings, were unprepared or were somehow complicit.
Lula said at his news conference there was “incompetence or bad faith? on the part of police, and that they had been likewise complacent when Bolsonaro supporters rioted in the capital weeks ago. He promised those officers would be punished and expelled from the corps.
The incident recalled the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. Political analysts have warned for months that a similar storming was a possibility in Brazil, given that Bolsonaro has sown doubt about the reliability of the nation’s electronic voting system – without any evidence. The results were recognized as legitimate by politicians from across the spectrum, including some Bolsonaro allies, as well as dozens of foreign governments.
Unlike the 2021 attack in the U.S., it is likely that few officials were working in the Brazilian Congress and Supreme Court on a Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter that Washington condemned the attacks, saying that “using violence to attack democratic institutions is always unacceptable.”