While Millions of youth traveled from 180 countries to celebrate World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro with Pope Francis, many Brazilians came out to protest. As Pope Francis met with Brazil’s president inside the Rio de Janeiro governor’s office on Monday, a Molotov cocktail was released in the crowd of protestors who gathered outside, burning two policemen
Police and protestors have reported conflicting accounts of what transpired. Protestors believe that police, posed as demonstrators in the crowd, staged the incident to make it appear that it came from one of them, giving police reason to storm the crowd and unload an arsenal of stun bombs, rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd of more than 1,500.
Police admitted to placing undercover police officers among the crowd of demonstrators but deny that any of their people tossed the Molotov cocktail.
“The military police has never denied that its intelligence has agents accompanying the demonstrations,” police spokeswoman Vanessa Andrade said when asked about the videos. “These intelligence agents only work with observation. To imagine that a police officer would throw a Molotov cocktail at his professional colleagues, putting their lives at risk, is something that goes beyond common sense and reveals a sordid conspiracy used to justify the criminal violence of these vandals.”
Although police arrested a suspect on Monday, student Bruno Ferreira Teles`, protestors allege that the police version of the account was not accurate. Police tweeted that they arrested a demonstrator in possession of 20 Molotov cocktails.
According to a report obtained by Brazil’s Jornal Nacional, an officer testified that the student arrested Monday had no explosives in his possession.
Rio’s governor stated he would investigate the accusations regarding the arrest of Teles’.
In other reports, police are accused of removing an initial video in which the suspect was wearing a white cloth around his face and a black shirt with a print and replacing it with one that shows a man lighting and throwing the Molotov cocktail with a tattoo on his arm.
Supporters of the demonstrators say that the suspect in the initial video ran into the crowd of police where he appeared to be accepted as a comrade.
A citizen journalist in attendance released another video of the incident in which two men were seen running through a police barricade. The one with the black shirt in the initial video and another with a shirt around his neck, were stopped by police, but allowed to go through after they appeared to show ID’s, according to the report.
Protestors came out in numbers to show their opposition to the Pope’s visit. Some carried signs that read, “Go away, Francis!” but they also directed their anger toward the government, which is spending billions to prepare for mega events like the World Cup and the pope’s visit, stated a report in the Global Post.
Pope Francis’ visit to Rio De Janeiro was expected to show a different side to the violence and crime that is the city’s reputation, but instead security was heightened to high risk because of the Molotov cocktail.
Nonetheless, this did not stop Pope Francis from accomplishing his mission and his desire to touch the lives of those in need and to encourage the youth. When Pope Francis traveled to the poor areas of the city he reached out to the people leaving his security detail and bullet proof car behind showing himself to be a servant of the people.
By: Veverly Edwards