- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Protesters smashed the windows of luxury cars inside a dealership, trashed banks and fired powerful fireworks at police during a demonstration that drew about 2,000 Thursday as Brazil’s biggest city hosted a World Cup match.

The demonstration began just as the game pitting Uruguay against England got underway, taking place some 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of the stadium.

By nightfall, protesters set trash aflame on a main highway and organized their own soccer match on the roadway, but about five hours after it began the demonstration had mostly dispersed.

It was the latest protest to hit Brazil, which has seen hundreds of demonstrations in the past year by people expressing anger about poor public services, corruption in government, the billions spent to host the World Cup and a litany of other complaints. Recent protests have been far smaller than those seen last year.

“Even if Brazil was the champion of the World Cup it wouldn’t make me happy,” said Valcenie Karai, a 24-year-old protester. “I would be happy if their victory meant something for us. But the money they spent to host World Cup has already done enough damage.”

The protest was organized by the Free Fare movement, the group that was behind the first protests last year that sparked roiling anti-government demonstrations across Brazil.

The group has one specific aim - to make public transit free. But its demonstrations often draw protesters with the myriad of other complaints that have become evident over the past year.

Anarchist “Black Block” protesters were carrying out the vandalism during Thursday’s protest.

Separately, police in Sao Paulo said they arrested 15 young men who threatened English soccer fans earlier in the day near the FIFA Fan Fest match viewing area. No serious altercation or injuries were reported.


Adriana Gomez Licon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/agomezlicon(backslash)

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