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At one point, a police helicopter flew over the crowd, which booed and pointed green lasers at the craft.
When shirtless youths, many of them with T-shirts wrapped round their faces, pushed and jostled their way through the crowd, people spontaneously broke out into a chant of "Without violence!"
But as has been the pattern earlier this week, the clashes began once night fell.
Several city leaders have already accepted protester demands to revoke an increase in bus and subway fares in the hopes that anti-government anger cools. In Sao Paulo, where demonstrators blocked Paulista Avenue, organizers said they would turn their demonstration into a party celebrating the lower transit fares.
But many believe the protests are no longer just about bus fares and have become larger cries for systemic changes.
President Dilma Rousseff was meeting Thursday with advisors in the heavily guarded presidential palace, according to her press office. Spokespeople did not say whether the president was discussing the protests going on throughout the country.
"This is the start of a structural change in Brazil," said Aline Campos, a 29 year old publicist in Brasilia. "People now want to make sure their money is well spent, that it’s not wasted through corruption."
Sibaja reported from Brasilia. Associated Press writers Bradley Brooks and Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo and Ricardo Zuniga in Salvador contributed to this report.
Some comments by Brazilians participating in protests across South America’s biggest country:
“We must invest in education before we invest so much money in the World Cup. We need schools, not stadiums.” - Erika Ribeira, 17, student, at a protest in Sao Paulo.
“Corruption is the greatest problem In Brazil. All that money that went into the World Cup is a Matterhorn for the police to look into. If people were more educated we wouldn’t have so many corrupt people in power.” - Caroline Moura, 23, business administrator protesting in Brasilia.
“I’m here to for the fight against corruption — we’ve got to fix the political system before anything else.” - Leonardo Toducz, 27, engineer protesting in Sao Paulo.
“We are struggling for the rights of indigenous people, which are being trampled on. Brazil has now awoken but it was the indigenous people who were the first to awake when we began a movement for our rights to land.” - Sonia Guajajara, 38, community leader from the northern state of Maranhao, at a Brasilia demonstration.
“This is the time to change so much that is wrong in Brazil and it’s young people who are leading the way. I see a sign of hope in this movement.” - Lorena Dias, 15, student, from Brasilia, carrying a sign reading “I don’t ride the bus but I want respect” referring to the original protests over rising bus fare.
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