Brazilian police in Belo Horizonte.
Police block a road to contain a demonstration against the 2014 World Cup in Belo Horizonte, as Colombia and Greece play their first round match in the same city, June 14, 2014. REUTERS/Nereu Jr

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that a video appears to show a Brazilian police officer brandishing a pistol and shooting live rounds into a crowd of anti-World Cup protesters during a demonstration taking place about a mile from Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium, as Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina national teams faced off there. Rio de Janeiro authorities told the AP they would “immediately open an investigation into the incident” if the accuracy of the video was verified. See the video via the AP here.

In a statement, the official added that there had been no reports of shooting victims during the protest and that riot police on the scene had been hit by Molotov cocktails thrown by protesters, though the statement did not indicate whether officers had been injured. Human rights groups had voiced fears prior to the Cup that Brazilian security officials could use excessive force on anti-World Cup protesters in an attempt to avoid embarrassment associated with large-scale protests. One release from Amnesty International warned that the event would be a “crucial test” for authorities.

That statement made reference to an earlier report from the group finding that tactics used against protesters over the past year included the “indiscriminate use of tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters, arbitrary arrests and the misuse of laws to stop and punish those who had taken to the streets”. But the AP writes that the outbreaks of violence during protests have been due to the “almost constant” presence of the Black Bloc – masked anarchists opposed to representative democracy (as opposed to more directly participatory forms) who often destroy property or use makeshift weapons against police.

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