A top judge says unrest on such a scale could not have occurred without the approval of the authorities.
Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes removed the governor of the Federal District of Brasilia, Ibaneis Rocha, from his post for 90 days late on Sunday after right-wing supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in the capital.
Riots on such a scale, which saw thousands of demonstrators overrunning Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential Planalto Palace on Sunday, “could only occur with the approval and even effective participation of the competent authorities,” the judge said, explaining his decision.
The fact that major protests by supporters of Bolsonaro, who were unhappy about his defeat in the November election to leftist opponent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, were being prepared was well-known and widely reported in the media, he pointed out.
According to judge, Ibaneis “not only made public statements defending a false ‘free political demonstration in Brasilia’… he also ignored all appeals by the authorities to carry out a security plan.”
The actions of the rioters were “despicable,” Moraes said, while pledging that those who masterminded and took part in the events will be held accountable.
“Brazilian democracy will not be shaken, much less destroyed, by terrorist criminals,” the judge insisted.
Moraes ruled that camps outside military bases set up by pro-Bolsonaro protesters should be removed within 24 hours, while also ordering social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to block the accounts of users spreading incendiary content.
Police detained at least 400 people while working to restore order in the capital on Sunday. Newly inaugurated Brazilian president Lula has declared a state of emergency, which will stay in force in Brasilia until the end of the month. Justice Minister Flavio Dino described the chaos in Brasilia as an attempted “coup” and promised more arrests.
Late on Sunday, Governor Ibaneis issued a video apologising for the situation that unfolded on his watch, branding the protesters “real vandals” and “terrorists.”
“We didn’t believe at any time that these demonstrations would take the proportions they took,” he claimed.
Bolsonaro, who is now reportedly staying in Miami, Florida, wrote on Twitter that “peaceful demonstrations… are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today… escape the rule.” The former president also claimed that left-wing protesters in Brazil were responsible for similar actions in 2013 and 2017.