Supporters of right-wing former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro have swarmed the country's Congress building, climbing its roof and breaking windows on Sunday, following weeks of unrest.
Video posted to social media shows the rioters attacking the Supreme Court building as well. Water can be seen pouring out of a broken window and makeshift lettering pasted on another window as demonstrators, many clutching or wearing Brazilian flags, survey the damage. The court had slapped Bolsonaro with a hefty fine in November over his efforts to challenge the results of the presidential race, accusing him of acting in bad faith.
Video posted to social media appeared to confirm reports that protesters had also broken into both the Presidential Palace and the Planalto Palace. While local media reports placed the crowd size at around 3,000 people, reports by police in the Federal District of Brasilia cited on social media suggested they were concerned they might be outnumbered by the demonstrators.
Bolsonaro’s successor Lula da Silva, inaugurated last week, has reportedly been evacuated to a secure location in Sao Paulo, according to news outlet Folha. Bolsonaro made a point of avoiding the ceremonial transition of power to his left-wing rival, opting to fly to Florida ahead of the date. The former leader left behind a tearful farewell message to supporters in which he reiterated that his electoral defeat had been unfair, while condemning the violent protests that followed.
The minister of justice has also been evacuated and the military reportedly ordered to deploy.
Since Lula’s narrow electoral victory in October, supporters of the former president have blocked roads, set vehicles on fire, and even surrounded military buildings, in an effort to try to convince soldiers inside to overthrow the new government.
Many observers pointed out similarities between the events in the Federal District and the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. In both cases, supporters of a right-wing leader ousted in a hotly-contested election swarmed government buildings that had been left largely unguarded, meeting with little if any resistance from authorities. Like their American counterparts, the Bolsonaro supporters came outfitted with their nation’s flags and messaging for the crowd - “We want the source code,” one banner dropped from the roof of the Congress read, presumably referring to the voting machines whose integrity Bolsonaro had questioned.