Supporters of Brazil’s Bolsonaro try to invade federal police headquarters

REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
A police officer fires a shotgun as supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro protest in Brasilia, Brazil, December 12, 2022.

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday attempted to invade the headquarters of the federal police in Brasilia, the capital, in protest against the arrest of an indigenous leader.

Television images, as well as videos shared by federal police officers with Reuters, showed burned-out cars, a bus that had been set on fire, and the sound of explosions and what appeared to be rubber bullets being fired.

Bolsonaro supporters, wearing their trademark yellow national soccer jerseys, could be seen rushing from the scene with sticks and throwing rubble.

The attempted invasion came after Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who has led probes into Bolsonaro and his allies, on Monday ordered the temporary arrest of José Acácio Serere Xavante for allegedly carrying out anti-democratic acts.

It came on the same day that the country’s federal electoral court (TSE) certified the Oct. 30 election victory of Bolsonaro’s leftist rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as president. After months of baseless suggestions that the country’s electronic voting system is liable to fraud, Bolsonaro has yet to concede defeat to Lula, but he has not blocked the handover of power.

Many of his supporters, however, have refused to accept defeat, camping outside military bases across the country, urging the Armed Forces to overturn the result. Xavante was one of the people involved in such protests.

In a statement, the Supreme Court said Moraes “decreed the temporary arrest, for 10 days, of the indigenous José Acácio Serere Xavante, due to evidence of the commission of crimes of threat, persecution and violent abolition of the Democratic State of Law.”

Tensions spilled over after the arrest.

Brazil’s incoming justice minister, Flavio Dino, said on his Twitter account, “The depredation and attempted invasion of the Federal Police building in Brasilia are unacceptable. Court orders must be complied with by the Federal Police.

“Those who consider themselves harmed must offer the appropriate resources, never practice political violence,” he added.

The Federal Police and Brasilia’s Military Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.