Rio’s Anarchists Rioted in Support of Teachers

The idea of anarchists rioting their angry hearts out on behalf of schoolteachers is a pretty weird one, but that’s exactly what happened in Rio on Monday. Educators working in the city’s municipal school system have been on strike since August 8, demanding improved career options and salaries. In response, Mayor Eduardo Paes formed a commission to discuss how to deal with the demands of the teachers, who said they’d remain on strike until the government announced their plans on October 1.

The city’s proposal was, of course, crap, and would only have benefited around seven percent of the city’s teachers. So, the day the bill was up for a vote, the teachers met at city hall—where the ballot was taking place behind closed doors—and tried to smash their way into the building.

Things got out of hand. In footage that made its way onto the internet afterward, riot police were seen attacking old ladies. Other cops were caught planting incriminating evidence. One member of Rio’s notoriously volatile law enforcement squad took to Facebook to post a picture of a broken police stick, with the caption “foi mal, fessor” (or “too bad, teach”).

The media, sympathizers on social networks, and the anarchist black blocs have not forgiven the mistakes the cops made that day, so a pro-teacher rally was called for this Monday. Setting off from Rio Branco Avenue in downtown Rio, an estimated 50,000 people made their way back to city hall. Again, protesters tried to break their way into the building and again the whole thing ended up in a huge violent confrontation with Rio police. Protesters used sticks, stones, and Molotov cocktails. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets. Though the march had started peacefully, by the time the dust had settled one officer was seriously injured, tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage was done, and 18 protesters were arrested.

And some buses were on fire. In Brazil, the buses always get it bad.

Weirdly, the city hall—which, along with local banks and consulates, bore the brunt of the damage—was undefended at the time the protest march reached it. This has sparked conspiratorial rumors that the city wanted the protesters to do as much damage as possible in order to get public opinion back on their side.

For now, the teachers remain on strike and it’s likely they’ll be back on to the streets sometime soon.

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