Thousands of people stormed government buildings in the capital of Brazil on Sunday, ransacking the halls of power and fighting with law enforcement to protest alleged election fraud in the recent defeat of former President Jair Bolsonaro.
Protesters surged into Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices, which are all located in Brasilia’s Three Powers Square, the New York Times reported.
Many of them wearing the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag, protesters filmed themselves using barricades as weapons, rifling through private offices, and sitting in seats of power.
One video showed a crowd of protesters surrounding a mounted police officer and pulling him from his horse’s saddle to the ground.
Another video shows the moment a police vehicle is driven into a pond in the square amid yelling crowds.
In another video, a huge crowd moves through the square while anti-riot munitions appear to pop and flash behind them.
Brazil Justice Minister Flávio Dino said the buildings had been cleared about seven hours after the event began, the Times reported. As of Monday, at least 1,200 people have been detained for questioning, a police spokesman said, according to the New York Times.
The event came days after the inauguration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a longtime fixture of Brazil’s left wing. Bolsonaro, a conservative former military officer, never formally conceded the race and skipped Lula’s inauguration, where he would have formally handed over the presidential sash.
Bolsonaro tried and failed to push election fraud claims through the courts, but ultimately said in a farewell address, “Either we live in a democracy or we don’t. Nobody wants an adventure,” the Washington Post reported.
He tweeted late on Sunday to condemn the “depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017,” according to a Twitter translation.
Bolsonaro recently flew to Florida, where he has previously met with former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club. He was admitted to a hospital in Orlando with abdominal pain Monday, Reuters reported.
“There is no precedent for what these people have done,” Lula said, “and for that, these people must be punished.”