Olympic Course Construction Fuels ‘Occupy Golf’ Protests in Brazil

January 12, 2015
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Unrest in Brazil has boiled over again, and this time some protesters have picked an unlikely target: golf.

Dom Phillips of the Washington Post reports that among thousands of demonstrators in Brazil protesting increased bus fares and police brutality, a small group of about a dozen or so has formed “Occupy Golf.”

The protesters’ main concern is the environment. The Olympic golf course is being built in a high-end suburb of Barra de Tijuca, which protesters and prosecutors claim is an environmentally protected area. They feel that building the course is not worth the potential damage to wildlife, especially because the city already has two other golf courses.

In November, a Rio judge rejected a plea from prosecutors to stop construction on the grounds that it violates Brazilian environmental laws, easing fears that the Gil Hanse-designed course would not be ready to host competition in 2016.

According to Phillips, the Occupy Golf movement was formed in early December and established a base along the highway near the golf course construction site. Last week, members of an unarmed police force called the Municipal Guard battled protestors in an attempt to dismantle their shelter. After being handcuffed and forced into a police car, a 30-year-old student involved in the protest received a beating that resulted in a broken tooth.

Video of the attack can be seen on the group’s Facebook page, which has over 5,000 likes.

A city spokesperson told Phillips that the 14 acres of former municipal ecological park used to build the course will be compensated by the creation of a new park.

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