Brazil riots: How the storming of Congress unfolded

Thousands of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's supporters stormed the country's Congress on Sunday.

Shocking footage shows rioters draped in the yellow and green of Brazil's flag as they smash their way into government buildings in the capital Brasilia in scenes reminiscent of the 6 January riots at the US Capitol.

It follows months of demonstrations by extremists loyal to the former far-right leader, who narrowly lost the Presidential election to Lula Ignacio da Silva in October.

Sky News has verified and analysed evidence from across social media to reveal how the incident unfolded.

For Bolsonaro's most ardent supporters in Brasilia, Sunday began the same as each day had for months: outside the military headquarters.

Demonstrators calling for military intervention to stop Lula taking power have been camped there since the election result was announced at the end of October.

Some argue that Lula is corrupt, while others believe the election result was fixed in his favour. Whatever the reason, the protesters are largely united in their belief that only through a military coup can Brazil’s future be secured.

This weekend marked the first since the ceremony officially inaugurating Lula as President. Flyers circulating on Telegram in the days prior advertised a major protest in Brasilia on 8 January.

"We are the resistance. We are going to take to the streets of our country for an indeterminate period. Everything emanates from the people," it says.


Protesters begin heading to the Esplanados dos Ministerio, the heart of Brazil's central government's campus

Messages directing others to join them are circulating on far-right Telegram channels.



A crowd is beginning to gather in the centre of the complex. A Facebook livestream shows them congregating on the grass.

For now, the mood appears calm.


Three minutes later, the livestreamer makes his way towards the road running parallel to the Congressional complex.

Here, we can see two barriers have been set up to prevent the public from entering the grounds.

Between them, some police and military are stationed although their numbers are few compared to the crowd. Police vehicles are also visible in the distance.


He turns around and begins walking away from the barrier, capturing the growing crowd as he moves.

As he approaches the adjacent road, it’s clear why he's headed in that direction. A massive stream of demonstrators has now arrived and is headed towards the centre of the square. Those around him clap and cheer as they greet their fellow protesters.

Meanwhile, another video captured around the same time shows the scene at the barrier.

The once-peaceful atmosphere has now become aggressive, and several members attempt to break down the plastic fencing. Nearby police spray a substance at the mob in an attempt to contain them, but it achieves little.

The crowd surges forward, breaching the barriers while the few police that are there slowly retreat.

There is now nothing standing between them and the buildings representing the government they despise so fiercely.


Minutes later, the livestreamer returns to where the barrier once was and captures hoards of people making their way towards the Congressional building. Those at the front have now begun to climb on the roof.

He heads towards the National Congress building, tailed by the rest of the crowd. As he approaches, we see demonstrators struggling with the effects of what appears to be tear gas fired by the authorities.


By this time, the livestreamer is inside the Congressional complex and captures a group attempting to breach the doors.

"They're breaking the windows of Congress!" he shouts.

Footage later emerges of the chaotic scenes inside Brazil's Senate after the demonstrators force entry. Rioters draped in Brazilian flags can be seen running around the Senate floor and lounging in seats usually reserved for elected officials.

In the clip, one man can be seen wearing goggles, which are sometimes worn as protection from teargas.

Outside, the roof of Congress is now filled with a sea of demonstrators in yellow and green.


Meanwhile, crowds have also begun to descend on the Presidential Palace, which is situated adjacent to the National Congress.

Another livestreamer captures the scene as throngs of people surround the building. By this time, they've already breached the gates.

Other footage captured moments later shows demonstrators struggling with the effects of tear gas as the authorities attempt to control the situation.

Demonstrators climb the ramp leading into the building as they attempt to get inside.


By this time, footage is beginning to emerge of protesters swarming the nearby Federal Supreme Court.

Huge crowds can be seen entering the chamber through a broken window.

Outside, a heavier police and military presence is forming as the authorities seek to put an end to the riots.

A small number can be seen with riot shields outside the Presidential Palace.

By 4.30pm, the number military have increased their numbers significantly and the process of dispersing the rioters begins in earnest.

Security forces did not take back full control of the buildings until 6.30pm that evening. In all, the siege is reported to have lasted over three hours.

Brazil's health ministry says 70 people were injured during the riots. Over 1,500 people have now been arrested for their involvement.

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