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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tear Gas Fired Outside Stadium in Brazil, but Protest Still Spreads Inside

A Brazilian blogger named Rafael Salvador posted video on YouTube on Wednesday that showed protesters fleeing tear gas on Avenida Alberto Craveiro in the city of Fortaleza.

Tear gas once again filled the air outside a gleaming stadium in Brazil as the police in the northeastern city of Fortaleza blocked an estimated 35,000 protesters from approaching the venue where the national team, known as the Seleção, met Mexico on Wednesday afternoon in a tune-up for next year's World Cup.

Before the day was over, though, the protesters had the last laugh, as placards echoing their demands were waved by fans inside the grounds, several leading players voiced their support for the protests and the authorities in some parts of Brazil started to back away from the planned increases in bus fares that were the initial catalyst for the demonstrations.

Vide o broadcast by TV Globo before Wednesday's match in Fortaleza offered aerial views of the vast crowd filling a road near the Castelão stadium. Images posted online showed a festive atmosphere among the protesters before the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd along Avenida Alberto Craveiro.

Brief video clips posted on YouTube by observers in the crowd showed the protesters singing the national anthem and waving placards demanding that the government spend money on education and health care as freely as it has on stadiums.< /p>

Protesters waved placards and sang the national anthem on a road to the Castelão stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Wednesday in a video posted on YouTube by Diego Freitas, under the headline “Fortaleza Woke Up!”

Video of Wednesday's protest in Fortaleza recorded by Deivyson Teixeira, a journalist for the local news site O Povo.

An ESPN reporter, Lucas Borges, captured ground-level video of police officers retreating as protesters knocked over some metal barricades blocking the road, and of the pitched battle that followed as volleys of tear gas shells were fired at the demonstrators. A Terra TV report from the scene showed tear gas being fired as protesters chanted, “No violence!”

Video taken by a participant in the rally showed protesters suffering the effects of the gas.

Video provided to the Fortaleza news site O Povo by a publicist named André Barbosa showed protesters suffering the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Bloggers also shared images on social networks of others in the crowd who were injured by rubber bullets.

Inside the stadium, before kick-off, supporters of the national team who sympathized with the demands of the protesters were careful to make it clear that they did not hold the players responsible for the government's lack of investment in less glamorous projects.

As Kety Shapazian, a reporter and copy editor at Diário do Comércio in São Paulo, noted on Twitter, news agencies captured dozens of images from inside the stadium showing supporters of the national team waving signs in favor of the protesters' demands.

At a news conference before the match, ESPN Brazil reported, two players, David Luiz and Hulk, and the national team's coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, indicated that they were on the side of the protesters. Three other star players, Neymar, Dani Alves and Marcelo, used their Instagram accounts to post messages of sympathy for the demands of those in the streets.

The Fortaleza news site O Povo reported that the demonstration outside the stadium on Wednesday was organized on Facebook by a group protesting Brazil's spending on stadiums for the World Cup as a “bread and circus” distraction from pressing social problems. Those protesters, and the fans who brought placards into the stadium calling for a more fair distribution of the country's wealth, were unlikely to be mollified by an account of just what Brazilian taxpayers had gotten for the millions of dollars spent to renovate the Castelão stadium. According to world soccer's governing body, FIFA, the improvements included luxuries like “an underground car park with 1,900 spaces, executive boxes, a V.I.P. area, media center, mixed zone and fully refurbishe d dressing rooms.”

As The Times's Simon Romero reports, demonstrators also blocked traffic in São Paulo, the nation's largest city, where there was some violence and looting during a massive and mainly peaceful protest Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, as news accounts of the protests began to focus on looters who had taken advantage of the police preoccupation with crowd control and on the minority of violent protesters, supporters of the demonstrations pointed to a YouTube video explainin g their reasons for taking to the streets, and shared remarkable images of thousands of peaceful and orderly demonstrators who had packed the streets of São Paulo the night before.

Video of looting in São Paulo on Tuesday night posted online by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

A video made to explain what the protests in Brazil are about.

Video of protesters in central São Paulo on Tuesday night.