SAO PAULO – Some 2,000 striking police officers in the northeastern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte presented themselves for arrest on Wednesday after a judge issued warrants for leaders of the “illegal” work stoppage.
The officers showed up in handcuffs outside police headquarters in Natal, the state capital, but none of them was taken into custody.
Each of Brazil’s 26 states has two police agencies, one military and one civil. While military police are responsible for public order, the civil force investigates crimes.
Both the civil and military police in Rio Grande do Norte went on strike Dec. 19 after going weeks without pay.
Though the military police decided on a gradual return to work once the strike was ruled illegal, the civil force resolved to continue the stoppage.
“As the state has not fulfilled its obligation to employees, we have come here for the state to fulfill its judicial decision and arrest us,” civil police union leader Nilton Arruda said Wednesday in Natal.
The state government promised to pay police their November arrears this week, though there is still no word on when officers are to receive their December pay or the “13th month” bonus that is traditional in many Latin American nations.
The strike prompted state authorities to request the deployment of the army to maintain order and since last Friday, some 2,800 soldiers have been on patrol in the principal cities of Rio Grande do Norte.
With police off the job, the state has seen a surge in violent crime, with 101 homicides during the last two weeks, according to figures compiled by an NGO.