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Government wants joint action with SP and Rio against vandals at protests; police investigate actions by a criminal faction

10/30/2013 - 16h32

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FERNANDA ODILLA
FROM BRASÍLIA
ROGÉRIO PAGNAN
FELIPE SOUZA
LAURA CAPRIGLIONE
FROM SÃO PAULO

The Brazilian federal government will try to outline a joint strategy with São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to suppress and efficiently punish acts of violence and vandalism occurring during protests.

A meeting with Security representatives of the two states was scheduled for Thursday, October 31 at the Justice Ministry in Brasilia in order to define the primary measures that should be taken.

"It does not mean a repression of freedom of expression, but [to make] intelligence analysis, investigate and implement the best possible punishment for people who break the law," stated Minister José Eduardo Cardozo (Justice) on Tuesday, October 29. He said Rio and São Paulo were chosen because they are the places where the protests have "repeatedly" ended with vandalism.

The decision was taken after the protest against the death of a youth during a stop by the Military Police led to panic in the north of São Paulo, where vehicles were torched, shops looted, motorists robbed and an at least four hours ban on the main road connection between São Paulo and Minas Gerais.

Besides the six buses and three trucks set ablaze this Monday, armed demonstrators shot at and looted stores, hitting a passerby.

Soldier Luciano Pinheiro Bishop, 31, arrested for unintentional manslaughter, was said to have accidentally shot the boy when he was getting out of a vehicle.

Police are investigating alleged involvement by members of the criminal organization PCC (First Command of the Capital) in organizing violent protests.

A good portion of businesses closed their doors on Tuesday, the second day, and classes were suspended in some schools. Some store owners were said to have received warnings about criminal activity, so there closing throughout the week.

Police, public security officials and prosecutors say there is a host of evidence that link PCC criminals to the action.

The area where there were violent acts occurred is one of the main strongholds of the group for trading in drugs and weapons.

According to them, no action of this type would occur without the consent of the local drug bosses, since the presence of a heavy police guard impedes drug sales.

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