‘Sept 7 Op’: Brazil protests turn violent as police fire tear gas, rubber bullets

‘Sept 7 Op’: Brazil protests turn violent as police fire tear gas, rubber bullets
Brazil's Independence Day celebrations turned violent after protesters disrupted a military parade in Rio de Janeiro. Police fired tear gas at the crowd as it shouted anti-government slogans. Over 100 protests took place across the nation on Saturday.

Demonstrators staged the Rio rally on the downtown avenue where the military was holding its Seventh of September parade. The protesters, many of whom wore masks, invaded stands in the parade area, prompting police to act.

Security forces shot rubber bullets as they chased several demonstrators who escaped through side streets, news site G1 reported.

Spectators, many of them families with children, fled the area in an attempt to avoid tear gas fumes. 

The Saturday protest was part of “Operation September 7.” Additional demonstrations, all of which were organized through social media, took place in more than 150 cities across the country.  Police detained more than 300 people, Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported.

Clashes were also reported in the capital city of Brasilia, where President Dilma Rousseff was giving a speech.

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest as they try to approach a military parade on Brazil's Independence Day in Rio de Janeiro September 7, 2013. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)

Police used pepper spray to hold back a crowd of more than 1,000 demonstrators who marched to Brazil's Congress. The protesters demanded the ouster of the current government, which they believe is corrupt, Reuters reported.

Demonstrators were allowed to march along Brasilia’s esplanade after the military parade, which was led by Rousseff, ended.  

Rousseff called on her supporters to also take to the streets in response to the nationwide protests.

A crowd of demonstrators later marched toward Brasilia's brand new US$600 million football stadium, where the Brazilian national team was scheduled to play Australia later on Saturday. The game is intended to be practice for next year’s World Cup, which Brazil will host.

Riot police fired volleys of tear gas to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the stadium.

Hundreds of people also marched in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, on Saturday. The demonstration was largely peaceful.

Brazil’s involvement in the World Cup triggered nationwide protests in June as citizens grew frustrated over the high costs associated with the competition. Most of Brazil’s population struggles with poor healthcare, education, and transport. Demonstrators are also angry about the level of alleged corruption taking place during preparation for the sporting event.

A man walks away with his son as demonstrators clash with riot police near an audience area during a protest as they try to approach a military parade on Brazil's Independence Day in Rio de Janeiro September 7, 2013. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)

Demonstrators clash with riot police near the National stadium in Brasilia on September 07, 2013 (AFP Photo)

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest as they try to approach a military parade on Brazil's Independence Day in Rio de Janeiro September 7, 2013. (Reuters/Pilar Olivares)

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest as they try to approach a military parade on Brazil's Independence Day in Rio de Janeiro September 7, 2013. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)

Demonstrators burn a Brazilian flag during a protest on Brazil's Independence Day in Rio de Janeiro September 7, 2013. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)

Policemen detain a demonstrator at a protest during Brazil's Independence Day in Rio de Janeiro, September 7, 2013. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)