Brazil Politician Throws Hand Grenades at Police

Roberto Jefferson, an ally of President Bolsonaro, refused to be arrested
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 24, 2022 6:05 AM CDT
Brazil Politician Throws Hand Grenades at Police
Supporters of former lawmaker Roberto Jefferson protest against his arrest near his house in Levy Gasparian, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.   (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

A Brazilian politician attacked federal police officers seeking to arrest him in his home on Sunday, prompting an hours-long siege that caused alarm and a scramble for a response at the highest level of government. Roberto Jefferson, a former lawmaker and an ally of President Jair Bolsonaro, fired a rifle at police and threw grenades, wounding two officers in the rural municipality Comendador Levy Gasparian, in Rio de Janeiro state, per the AP. He said in a video message sent to supporters on WhatsApp that he refused to surrender, though by early evening he was in custody.

The events were stunning even for Brazilians who have grown increasingly accustomed to far-right politicians and activists thumbing their noses at Supreme Court justices, and comes just days before Brazilians go to the polls to vote for president. The Supreme Court has sought to rein in the spread of disinformation and anti-democratic rhetoric ahead of the Oct. 30 vote, often inviting the ire of Bolsonaro’s base that decries such actions as censorship. As part of those efforts, Jefferson was ordered jailed for making threats against the court's justices.

Jefferson received permission to remain under house arrest instead of being incarcerated, provided he complied with certain conditions. Justice Alexandre de Moraes said in a decision published Sunday that Jefferson has repeatedly violated those terms—most recently by using social media to compare one female justice to a prostitute—and ordered he be returned to prison. After his assault on officers, he now also faces charges of attempted murder.

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Bolsonaro was quick to criticize his ally in a live broadcast on social media. He denounced Jefferson’s statements against Supreme Court justices, including the threats and insults that led to his initial arrest, and Sunday’s attack. He also sought to distance himself from the former lawmaker. “There’s not a single picture of him and me,” Brazil’s president said. His opponents promptly posted several pictures of the two together. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is campaigning to return to his former job, told reporters in Sao Paulo that Jefferson “does not have adequate behavior. It is not normal behavior.”

(More Brazil stories.)

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