A federal judge in Rio de Janeiro issued an injunction Tuesday that forbids police or security from removing fans from Olympic events for protesting Brazil’s unpopular interim president, Michel Temer. This includes wearing t-shirts, waving signs or chanting slogans against him.
Judge João Augusto Carneiro Araújo ruled that Brazilians do not forfeit their constitutionally protected right to free speech just to be attending Olympic games.
As Brazil’s senate moves forward with the impeachment trial of suspended president Dilma Rousseff, protesters are increasingly showing grievances at Olympic events. Their almost universal slogan, on handwritten signs, T-shirts and social media, is “Fora Temer,” a call for the removal of interim President Michel Temer.
Temer, who took over from Rousseff in May, was booed when he spoke at the opening ceremony. His approval ratings in polls are around the same low levels as Rousseff, blamed by many for widespread corruption in the Workers’ Party and for steering Latin America’s biggest economy into a recession.
The International Olympic Committee has a ban on protests – political or otherwise – at official Olympic events. Brazilian fans, however, seem more resistant to this ban, as it harkens back to censorship experienced during their military dictatorship, which took place between 1964-1985.
Luis Moreira, a volunteer at the Olympic games, says he became outraged when he saw heavily armed commandos grab a seated man at an archery event Saturday and remove him for holding up an anti-government banner. The incident was caught on a cellphone and shared almost 3 million times on Facebook. Rather than be asked to carry out a similar order, Moreira decided to quit as the coordinator of a group of 30 volunteers at the venue.
WATCH: Facebook video of man and family being ejected from Olympic games
“For the IOC to decide what we can and cannot do in my country is not right,” Moreira told The Associated Press. “Freedom of speech is guaranteed in our constitution, and the committee can’t do anything against that.”
Judge Araújo agreed, saying that nothing in special legislation passed before the games restricts Brazilians’ right to free expression. He also threatened to levy fines of up to $3,200 on anyone who removes peaceful protesters from venues.
The Rio Olympic organizing committee said it plans to ask the judge to reconsider his ruling and will make a final appeal, if necessary.
Story compiled with information from The Associated Press