Brazil Police Arrest More Than 1200 After Rioters Break Into Congress, Presidential Palace

The scene looked remarkably similar to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a scene that looked remarkably similar to the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Brazil’s congressional building is in shambles after thousands of protesters stormed it Sunday. The protestors support the country’s far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro.

While draped in the green and yellow of the Brazilian flag, which Bolsonaro’s supporters have adopted as a symbol, the intruders smashed windows, blew through barriers and ransacked offices, and roamed the halls and filmed video while inside Congress, the presidential palace and Supreme Court. Some demonstrators called for the military to intervene to overturn the results of the election.

The chaos unfolds a week after leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office, after winning the presidency in October. In December the federal electoral court certified the election results. The rioters wrongly believe the election was stolen. 

Lula, who was out of town at the time, but vowed to return immediately, blamed Bolsonaro for the violent uprising, and what he called  “fascist fanatics,” saying “There is no precedent for what they did and these people need to be punished.” Congress was not in session.

Bolsonaro, who is in Florida and missed Lula’s inauguration, pushed back, tweeting that  peaceful protest is part of democracy, but vandalism and invasion of public buildings are “exceptions to the rule.”

He condemned the acts of his supporters – something Trump failed to immediately do while the Capitol was being stormed in 2021.

"However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule," he continued. "Throughout my mandate, I have always been acting according to the Constitution, respecting and defending the laws, democracy, transparency and our sacred freedom."

President Biden also weighed in on the eruption, tweeting, “I condemn the assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also did the same, tweeting, “Respecting the democratic will of the people is paramount in any democracy – including Brazil. Canada strongly condemns the violent behaviour on display there today, and we reaffirm our support for President @LulaOficial and Brazil’s democratic institutions.”

It took hours for authorities to get the situation under control and clear the buildings. Police fired tear gas into the crowds, and at least 1200 people were arrested. Officials called the incident a “terrorist attack” while promising to prosecute those involved.

“I'm in the field, walking on the streets and personally commanding the security forces, fulfilling the mission I received from the President of the Republic. Nobody will go unpunished. The democratic rule of law will not be walled up by criminals,” said police official Ricardo Cappelli, according to CNN.