Brazilian police clashed with students at Pernambuco Federal University, in the north-east of the country, on 8 October, as authorities attempted to end an occupation in the university buildings ongoing since the start of the month.
The operation, led by the federal and military police, began at around 7.30am local time and resulted in two protesters being arrested on charges of disobeying the authorities. Police used pepper spray against the protesters, who complained of an excessive use of force. The military police claimed they did everything they could to negotiate with the students. "They started to spray pepper spray and hit us, this is a massacre, it is torture," said a student who did not give her name.
The occupation began on 2 October, with students and teachers demanding the approval of a new statute for the university council. Among the main issues is security at the university. State Senator Edilson Silva, who witnessed the protests, said the students' demands deserve a response and not police action.
"We have to find who is responsible and try to guarantee that there is a response to the students' demands, which are absolutely justified, and are not only their demands but demands of the whole community. It is a shame for me as an advocate for human rights, to see police action carried out in the middle of a process of negotiation, which is of a political nature," he said.
Scuffles broke out on the second day of the occupation after a glass door at the entrance of the university was broken. The superintendent said at least one security official was injured by the students.