At least three cars, including a police vehicle, were set ablaze in the Rio de Janeiro favela (slum) of Complexo do Alemão on April 29 after the fatal shooting of an elderly woman -- the latest in a series of such outbreaks as Brazilian authorities attempt to clean up Rio's slums before the World Cup games open next month.
Arlinda Bezerra de Assis, 72, died after being shot in the stomach during a gun battle between police and presumed gang members. In another incident on April 23, the favela violence actually spilled into Rio's posh beachfront tourist districts -- an unprecedented occurrence that doubtless struck fear deep into the hearts of the city fathers.
The protests broke out in the Pavao-Pavaozinho favela, perched on the hills overlooking the famed Copacabana district. The riots were sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, 25, a popular dancer on Brazil's Globo TV network, had been discovered in the favela -- apparently killed as "collateral damage" in another one of the frequent police shoot-outs with drug gangs.
Residents swept down into Copacabana, setting fires and hurling bottles at police, vehicles and businesses. The violence also spilled over into nearby Ipanema, another posh tourist district. The young dancer's funeral two days later also exploded into a riot, as mourners blocked traffic after leaving the Sao Joao Batista cemetery, chanting "Justice! Justice! Police murderers!" Police used tear-gas to clear the intersection.
The Military Police "pacification" campaign aimed at getting the favelas under control ahead of the World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics looks like it may be backfiring horribly.