A Brazilian senator was shot on Wednesday as he tried to drive a bulldozer towards a military police strike demanding higher salaries in the northeastern state of Ceara.
Senator Cid Gomes, 56, who also serves as the regional governor, was shot by a rubber bullet while driving a bulldozer towards a fence behind which a group of masked military police officers were holding a demonstration to demand a salary increase. It is not yet clear from where the shot was fired.
Shortly before arriving at the demonstration, Gomes uploaded a video on Twitter expressing his anger and calling for people to help him end the strike.
Footage of the demonstration showed Gomes driving the digger towards a metal fence and lifting it up with the digger’s arm as the protests took place behind. As he was driving the digger, several shots can be heard and the windscreen of the digger suddenly shatters.
VIDEO: Senator Cid Gomes was shot twice by masked police protesters in the northeastern city of Sobral, casting light on the broader issue of military police protests in Ceará, which may spread across Brazil to devastating effect. pic.twitter.com/Ax8c4TUGls
— The Brazilian Report (@BrazilianReport) February 21, 2020
Under Brazilian law, police officers are banned from going on strike, with a local court ruling this week that those found guilty of illegally going on strike could face up to one year in prison. Their latest demonstration was blocking the entrance of the military police station to prevent other officers not participating in the strike from working.
So angered by their behavior, Gomes organized a counter-protest, telling them over a megaphone they had five minutes to clear the road. When they refused to do so, he got into the cab of the digger and drove towards the fence behind which they were demonstrating.
In response to the incident, Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro announced the deployment of additional federal security forces to Ceará to the region for a minimum of 30 days in a bid to restore public order.
Photos taken after the shooting showed Gomes being helped away with large bloodstains on his clothes. He has since been reported to be in a stable condition in hospital.
President Jair Bolsonaro’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, asked Gomes what reaction he had expected when he drove the digger towards the officers, accusing him of attempted murder.
“Imagine a person going with a backhoe on you? What did you expect?” he wrote. “At least a reaction in defense of one’s own life. What Cid Gomes did was, at the very least, attempted murder with eventual intent”:
Imagine uma pessoa indo com uma retroescavadeira para cima de você? O que se espera? No mínimo uma reação em defesa de sua própria vida.
O que Cid Gomes fez foi, no mínimo, tentativa de homicídio com dolo eventual. pic.twitter.com/ebtc8KaOKN
— Eduardo Bolsonaro🇷 (@BolsonaroSP) February 20, 2020
Gomes’s brother Ciro, a three-time presidential candidate, said that he “hoped that the responsible authorities catch those who attempted this barbarous homicide.”
“Congressperson Eduardo Bolsonaro, they will have to kill us before we ever allow militias to control the state of Ceará as their fellow scoundrels did in Rio de Janeiro,” he wrote:
Deputado #eduardoBolsonaro ,será necessário que nos matem mesmo antes de permitirmos que milícias controlem o Estado do Ceará como os canalhas de sua familia fizeram com o Rio de Janeiro. https://t.co/Sce2iFOGbC
— Ciro Gomes (@cirogomes) February 19, 2020
Members of Brazil’s military police in the north-eastern state of Ceará have been holding protests since late 2019 demanding better salaries, claiming they are receiving less than their counterparts across the country.