SAO PAULO (AP) — Hundreds of people in Sao Paulo’s Paraisopolis slums took to the streets to protest against local police three days after nine young people died in a stampede during a police operation at a funk music party.
Police have said they were pursuing suspects that had fired at them, but several witnesses blamed officers for Sunday’s tragedy, saying police forced partygoers into narrow passages.
“It was not a tragedy! It was murder!” residents sang as they marched toward the office of Sao Paulo Gov. João Doria, who is responsible for policing.
Doria said in a statement there would be a “rigorous investigation” of the incident. Sao Paulo police ombudsman Bendito Mariano said that “police need to change its protocol” after the deadly raid.
State officials allowed entry to seven participants in the protest march.
Another protest took place at the same time in front of Sao Paulo’s Public Security Secretariat.
Danilo Silva, 17, was friends with many of the dead. He said he was at the party and blames police for the deaths.
“They are used to coming here and giving us trouble for no reason. This time they caused a bigger mess. They cornered a lot of people in dead end alleys and they caused all of this,” he said, wearing a shirt that read “Justice for the 9 of Paraisopolis.”
More than 100,000 people live in Paraisopolis, which I Sao Paulo’s second biggest slum. Paraisopolis sits next to the upscale Morumbi district, and the contrast between the two areas is frequently used to illustrate Brazil’s staggering inequality.