SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Protesters and police clashed in São Paulo on Thursday night as tear gas and rubber bullets were fired into crowds of people protesting a bus and metro fare hike.
An estimated 5,000 people protested the increase in price of a single bus or metro ticket from 3 reais ($1.40) to 3.20 reais ($1.50).
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For the first time in the series of protests, São Paulo deployed riot police. When the officers, who all removed their name badges from their uniforms during the demonstration, fired the tear gas and rubber bullets, protesters shouted "fascist police" and ran in different directions.
More than 200 demonstrators were detained and at least 55 people were injured. According to newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, six of its journalists were wounded, two of them shot in the face with rubber bullets.
Military police Commander Benedito Meira said that one of the bullets was not meant for journalist Giuliana Vallone and had been fired at a crowd of protesters who he claimed were attacking police, but the bullet hit the ground and deflected into Vallone's face.
Meira said being shot with a rubber bullet was part of the journalist's "job risk" that she took on when she decided to cover the demonstration near the protesters.
Most of the protesters were reportedly university students, but authorities said groups of anarchists were also present and looking for a fight, with some lighting garbage on fire and smashing store windows.
State Governor Geraldo Alckmin called the protesters "vandals" and said "police acted with professionalism," rejecting the idea that police used excessive force.