|The handout at the rally|
Leaving the apartment at 8:35 sharp as the rally was to begin at 9:00, we drive to the gathering spot which is a large square near a University campus in the city. (There are several campuses within Goiania) Upon arriving we find a parking spot and walk across the square to join the group of people gathering. There are two obvious groups identified by their flags, banners and the color of their t shirts. One group is the educators all wearing blue and red and then there are the civil police
a couple of buses filled with participants arrive and cars with flags hanging out their windows continue to enter the small parking area. The media is present and it becomes obvious who the leaders of the group are as they position themselves in front of banners for interviews. There are some participants who have dressed up wearing red sparkly wigs and crazy clothes and then the rest are just wearing the specific colors of support. Unknowingly I have worn a red shirt today and although it does not say anything supporting the cause, at least it is the right color.
soon 9:40 and everyone standing around begins to gather closer to the car with the coffin as more instructions continue coming from the speakers on the back of the truck. At this point Luiz translates that there will be a group of people marching the short distance to the square. The procession will include the car with the coffin followed by the truck with speakers, the marchers, and then the rest of the vehicles honking their horns and waiving their flags. Remember the whole idea behind the morning is to slow down traffic and get attention and support from the community.
The protesters begin their march and as our car is on the other side of the park we head in that direction. Luiz decides to change our plans and drive to the central square and walk to meet them instead of being a part of the driving procession. He does offer me the opportunity to walk along with the marchers but I decline - maybe in hind sight I should have walked along? It takes us little time to drive to the square but once we pass the congestion created by the march we arrive in no time. We begin walking back down the street about 10 blocks until we hear the protesters chanting in the distance. I of course get my camera out to continue taking photos and cross the boulevard to the center
grassy area for a better angle. The coffin goes by and then some marchers and soon the civil police in black are in front of me. I snap a photo and one of the guys says something to me. Of course with my limited Portuguese, I do not understand and give him my " ah what? - I can't really hear you??" look which normally gets me off the hook when someone speaks to me on the street. This time however, the gentleman keeps looking at
me which is a little strange but then again I have no idea what he said and Luiz is across the street and did not hear. We wait for the second large truck which has the protesters who dressed up with colorful hair on top. They are using a second loud speakers to share their message with anyone who will listen. Once they pass by we decide to walk to the square with them, however we remain on the sidewalk.
about us and wanted to set the record straight. By this time the procession of people and cars had begun heading around the square, so we followed looking for someone from the university who could help us clear things up. About half way around he ran into the head of the university employees and explained to her what had happened. She invited us to hop into her car to finish the journey around the square.
Once the procession came to the band shell everyone stopped as people jumped out of their cars to gather and take part in
The demonstration seemed a little unorganized as they carried the coffin into the middle of the street. On the top of the coffin was a photo of the Brazilian President and some words. A man doused it and ignited it with a lighter. I don't think they practiced this
As we drove home, I thought about the events of the day and wondered if the misunderstanding all started with Luiz and I standing in the middle of the civil police that morning. I wondered where and who started the first conversation about us and how that snowballed until they were confronting us at the corner by the square. Although I did not know exactly what they were saying, I am surprised by how they (being civil police) handled the situation and really escalated it without us playing a single part. I really don't think we were in any danger but I also realized just how quickly a group of people can become a mob acting off of emotion and not reality. At the end of the day I was just glad to be home!