Police fire percussion stun bombs and rubber bullets at the Marcha da Maconha protesters, São Paulo, Brazil, May 21, 2011
Prohibited from holding a “March for Marijuana,” cannabis advocates in Brazil’s largest city had agreed with police to protest instead in defense of freedom of expression. But minutes after allowing the march, the Military Police brutally attacked the unarmed demonstrators with stun bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets.
About 1,000 people showed up for the rally Saturday in São Paulo’s financial heart. Television images showed riot troops charging toward the protesters when they tried to march down the busy Paulista Avenue.
Protesters, journalists covering the event, drivers who happened to be traveling in the opposite direction of the march and people who were simply walking down the street at the time became victims of police violence, reports Ricardo Galhardo at Último Segundo.
Henrique Carneiro, a professor of history at the University of São Paulo who was taking part in the march, was injured after being hit in the head with a percussion stun bomb and had to be taken to the hospital.
“Marcha da Maconha” advocates protest a judge’s decision to ban their march. They instead marched for freedom of expression, but were brutally attacked by police anyway
Four of the protesters were arrested.
Students Lucas Gordon and Julio Delmanto, both members of the group ‘Desentorpecendo a Razão’ (Stretching Reason), which organized the march, were arrested and taken to the 78th Police Precincte with allegations of “disobedience.”
Arthur Tobias was reportedly arrested after police officers overran him, and a boy identified only as Cunha were taken to the 4th Police Precinct.
The original aim of the organizers was to hold a march for the legalization of marijuana, the “Marcha da Maconha.” However, Judge Teodomiro Mendes, of the Court of Justice of São Paulo, on Friday afternoon banned that march.
At that point, organizers agreed to instead hold a march in defense of freedom of expression, only to be attacked by the very police who had agreed to allow the demonstration.