RIO DE JANEIRO — More than 5,000 anti-government protesters marched on Sunday near the Maracana stadium before a major international soccer match, venting their anger about the billions of dollars the Brazilian government is spending on major sporting events rather than public services.
Sharp clashes broke out several hundred yards from the stadium about 30 minutes before the game, as a minor scuffle between police and a few protesters escalated.
Officers quickly quashed the unrest, unleashing a barrage of tear gas canisters and stun grenades, scattering the crowd, but not before some protesters retaliated with Molotov cocktails and powerful fireworks. At one point, an officer ran into a nearby gas station and told several people holed up inside that they needed to get out or they were “all going to die here!”
Though smaller, the march was the latest in a wave of protests across the country in recent weeks. Many are calling the protest movement the biggest in decades, with more than 1 million people taking to the streets nationwide on the night of June 20.
The demonstrations have dwindled in size and frequency in recent days as officials from all levels of government have scrambled to calm public anger with woeful public services and a heavy tax burden.
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