On Thursday night we saw groups of (mostly) men roaming the streets of Rio without leadership or discipline, indiscriminately committing acts of violence.
If you’ve been following recent events in Rio (and countless other cities in Brazil), you’re probably wondering whether I’m describing the police forces or the minority of protesters who appear to be using these events as an excuse to smash stuff and set fire to things. At times the two groups, supposedly diametrically opposed, have appeared to share many traits.
This morning I arrived at work to see news footage from last night of guys in masks smashing up pretty much anything they could get their hands on. They were pulling down lampposts, setting fire to rubbish, kicking in windows and smashing up banks and shops. Then something that really shocked me – there were a couple of guys smashing in the windows of a bus and then the camera moved to show petrified passengers still trapped inside. Man, that made my blood boil! Some poor old guy was cowering under his chair while this idiot was shattering the windows with a metal bar.
Destroying a bank achieves what exactly? (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
But let’s not forget that there were hundreds of thousands of people protesting last night. The vast majority of them had nothing to do with the wanton destruction and spent a lot of time chanting the mantra: Sem violência! Again, it’s telling that this call was directed at both the police and the violent protesters.