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Police join anti-austerity rally in Rio de Janeiro

Firefighters shout during a protest against austerity measures outside the state legislature in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. (Photo by AP)

Brazilian police and public sector employees in Rio de Janeiro have staged a rally to protest against the government’s austerity plan which won the Senate’s endorsement last week.

On Tuesday, workers rallied outside the state legislative assembly. The protesters were particularly angry at the approval of a controversial amendment to the constitution.  

Members of the police force also joined the anti-austerity march. Security forces, who had previously clashed with the demonstrators, joined the chorus, chanting, "Here comes civil police” and held banners that read "Police die for the people.”

Some police officers even embraced the protesters and took pictures with them. They also handed out flowers to the demonstrators as a symbol of unity.

Some of the protesters were dressed in Santa clothes and hats, implying they had not received their Christmas bonuses.

Opponents argue that the proposed austerity measures would result in wage and pension cuts, tax increases and the suspension of social programs. They also complain that the measures have impacted the already underfunded education and health sectors.

State officials, however, remain defiant. They argue that the proposed measures are necessary to tame the financial crisis that has been afflicting the state.

President Michel Temer has asserted that tough measures are needed to bring Brazil's finances back under control.

Last week, anti-government rallies were held across several cities.

In Rio de Janeiro, a marching crowd chanted slogans against President Temer’s unelected government. Similar rallies were held in the capital Brasilia and Sao Paulo, where the demonstrators clashed with police.

Brazil is experiencing its worst recession in decades.

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