The “Ticket Bus Protest” in Brazil, or “How Brazil became Turkey for (at least) one night (so far)”Publicado; junho 14, 2013
Observation: This is a quick “Google Translate” text, that I made to manage to tell my friends about what went on in Brazil yesterday. Should you require a better translation for any use, please let me know and I will be glad to arrange that .
We arrived at the protest by subway, down the “Santa Cecilia Station” instead of “Anhangabaú Station” because many people were being searched and arrested at this season, or at least that was the rumor. A friend of my brother confirmed when we approach the turnstile: 30 people arrested so far. Most of “possession of vinegar”, which is a good substance to counter the effects of tear gas. Let’s face it: being arrested for bringing VINEGAR with you is being arrested for nothing at all, is not it? Mussolini would love this. But anyway …
Into the street the protest literally came to us. The ground shook. Thousands of voices singing in unison. I know the official numbers are much smaller, but my brother who had gone on Tuesday said: “It is more than double from Tuesday.” If he´s good at counting (guarantee he is) that would be around 20,000 people.
We left the station and went to the streets and the march literally walked towards us, towards Consolation Avenue. It could be a threatening image if it were not so beautiful. Most people holding flowers and the song that was sung was actually an appeal: “No violence.”
We quickly mixed with people and a woman in her 40s, probably a housewife, offered us some flowers that we readily distributed among people around us. We sang “No Violence” alternating with “The People woke up” and other peaceful screams that left very clear that we did not want trouble. There were some strange people in the middle, it’s true: A group of at least four guys that I’m sure were plainclothes police. The absolute majority was only there to express themselves.
We passed in front of the “Love Story” and “Copan Building”, and it seemed that everything would go well. When we got up to the Roosevelt Square on the other hand, the thing swelled. I swear that most of the march had not even seen a cop yet (including me) when we heard the crack of the first bomb. Some people ran away and others shouted “No running, let’s stay together,” and we continued, more slowly, intoning the mantra “No Violence” every time we felt that something was going wrong or dangerous.
Well, the thing swelled considerably before we could go one block. The police formed a barrier in the opposite direction we descended and began hurling tear gas and stun grenades at us at the same time. The air was thick.
Tear gas enters into your eyeballs burning, like an acid, and you can not see anything. The burning throat, burning lips, burning everything. People screaming everywhere, people falling to the ground, rolling. Sleeves outstretched everywhere begging for a little vinegar.
You see, I´m not the “F**** the police !!!! ” kind of guy. I hate violence. I promised my mother I would protect my brothers, I promised my wife that if thing got too dangerous I´d go away. At that moment it became clear that I no longer had that option: I had to join the mass to be around them, because the alternative would be beaten and arrested. Who came out at that time, who tried to give up, would be beaten and arrested. Many were.
Halfway through the run I found two of my friends, who joined the group. Didn´t have the chance to celebrate the encounter, because a new bomb exploded by our side. People bleeding from the shrapnel bomb (discovered after a friend of my brother had some shrapnel stuck in his leg). People who fainted and fell headlong to the ground. My brother almost fainted by the gas, but once he recovered he began distributing vinegar on the sleeves of people. Many people also came offering vinegar to me. Everyone united with the purest and simplest of goals: Not to be beaten and arrested. At that moment, that was the main goal of that mass, which came in more goodwill only to claim a quality transportation at a fair price.
In the middle of the mess I spotted a Record Ntework reporter. I ran up to him and shouted: “Film me! I want to talk. ” I recorded a statement, even with the flower that I held in my hand, stepped through and wilt after much confusion. The morning after I knew I was on TV and the media was getting on our side, but at the time I recorded a testimony of desperation, with little hope that the camera was even on, to begin with.
To continue at Consolation Avenue would have been suicide, so we crossed the Roosevelt Square toward the Rua Augusta. The crossing was frightening, helicopters hovered over us and it seemed that at any moment they would throw Napalm in our head, just like in that movie, Apocalypse Now. Who was there knows that I’m not exaggerating.
More gas bombs exploded by our side and behind us, we fell. I saw a female, 18 year old student, desperately crying, paralized by pannic … I saw even an old dude, so scared that I wonder if he was in march or just not informed enough before leaving home that day.
A small group of people tried to vandalize a cabin public bathroom, completely furious and mad with anger at the police. The remaining protesters prevented these people, which almost caused a fight within the demonstration. We all started screaming “No Violence” again and the mood calmed down. Entered in Augusta Street.
At that stage of the game, something became clear to me: Most people were on our side. Stuck in traffic, within their cars, people greeted us, honked the rhythm of our music and often opened the windows. They were not afraid of us. Sure, there were the gentlemen in suits and truculent in their trucks, probably posting on Facebook about how they expected the PM to kick our asses. There are always those. But most were with us.
I saw many funny things, as we passed by a brief and mild sense of security: I saw a guy in an Anonymous mask kissin a pretty girl who was driving a car, and stuck in traffic. I saw a parent with a child at the window, waving to the demonstration, and protesters all nodded and played with the little boy in return. They all laughed and danced togheter. I saw men and women open their home windows to deliver bottles of vinegar in solidarity. We received MANY applauds. My faith in humanity, hurt by a lot of crap from Facebook in recent weeks, began to regenerate.
All that is good lasts just: Getting close to the Paulista, by Bela Cintra, started hearing explosions again. The parties gathered their flags. Someone commented on my side: “The PM closed the Paulista and is waiting for us up there. Things are gonna get messy. “. I told my two friends, but it was the last time I saw them, because shortly after people started running back, because they were “opening fire” with rubber bullet on protesters who were trying to enter the Paulista. More explosions. We believe that while we were in the middle of the cars which were stuck in traffic, we would be safe, but the police started shooting it between cars. Many people who were trying to get home, stuck in traffic, breathed the gas that was meant for us.
We entered Pedro de Taque Street, trying to escape back to the Consolation, but saw mounted police in weight and also guns that launch the gas pump. Still screaming “No violence” we ran to Consolation Avenue once more. One of the Avenue´s ways was now released, and the police started to come from below, catching a whole bunch from the side. We were already divided. Who has ascended to the Paulista failed to descend, was already being butchered. And with them, workers, bystanders and even old ladies out of St. Louis Church. Many people who were not even protesting.
At this point we had already heard stories of reporters beaten and even a girl from the Folha de São Paulo Newspaper that supposedly had been shot in the eye. It is amazing what really makes Whatsapp and Cellular at a demonstration.
It was no longer a demonstration: It was a bloodbath. I could only think about the safety of my brothers. Screw the bus. Screw the governor Alckmin. I just wanted to protect my family and take them away safely. The opportunity arose. A street was cleared, and we could run to Moema and leave. We gathered a group of about 20 people, because we knew that smaller groups could be pursued, beaten and arrested. It was happening. We saw it by our side.
We crossed the Consolation Avenue running and we could hear the noise of the bombs, and see the light of the grisly police sirens coming up the road to meet the flank march. Tactics of war against the people that the police was supposed to protect.
Who was there after 9 p.m had two choices: Run or Fight. Fighting wasn´t a very good idea, since they had guns and we had nothing but vinegar.
The battery of my phone was gone, and I did not know if my friends were safe, but at least had taken my brothers away.
This march is for MUCH more than the £ 0.20 raise on the ticked fare. No wonder that the numbers have only grown since the first was organized. This march is for something that should be a priority for all of us who should matter most of all: FREEDOM.
When you realize the population should fear the police, even when not doing ANYTHING but expressing their opinion peacefully, you realize you´re living in a fascist like state.
Even the media turning to our favor (clearly frightened by the turn of public opinion) there is still a lot of people calling us vandals and saying we deserved the gas and the violence. I don´t care. Actually I feel sorry for those people who prefer to live as comfortable lackeys, rather than face the harsh reality that our state is turning, I repeat, into a fascist state.
I’m feeling lighter than ever today. I went to the street because it was the right thing to do. And sometimes we need to do things just because it’s RIGHT. Sometimes we need to accept the idea of being hurt or in danger, if it is to stand up for what we believe, it is this notion that makes it worth being alive.
I was not there because fighting the police is my idea of a great Thursday night. I was there for my wife, even though she was at home worried sick. Was there for my future children, they will not like it one bit if they have to live in a fascist Brazil. Was there for my friends, my parents, for all the people who can not understand what I was doing, but who will reap the fruits planted by those who left home yesterday, BECAUSE IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
This is far from over, and everyone should go to the streets. We can not be afraid, because that’s what they want. If we shut up, sit on the couch home and turn on the television, they win.