Thousands in Brazil protest order to remove 'propaganda'

Thousands of people gathered in front of Rio de Janeiro's electoral court on Friday to protest its ruling forcing universities to remove banners containing allegedly illegal electoral propaganda.

The protests took place two days before Brazilians return to the polls for the second round of the country's presidential elections.

Students and professors denounced that the court was exercising censorship and working in favor of far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro who will face left-wing Workers' Party candidate, Fernando Haddad on Oct. 28.

"The court supports dictatorship," several demonstrators chanted.

Earlier, the Rio de Janeiro chapter of the Brazilian Bar Association said in a statement that the court's decision was an attempt to limit the freedom of expression of students and professors at the law school of the Fluminense Federal University.

"We repudiate the recent decision by the electoral court that censors the freedom of expression of students and professors at the law school who have the constitutional right to manifest themselves politically," the statement said. "Free manifestations not aligned with candidates and parties, cannot be confused with electoral propaganda."

Bolsonaro's name was not on the banner that read "Law Students Against Fascism." It was taken down earlier this week but students quickly replaced it with one that said "Censored."

At Rio de Janeiro's State University a banner honoring murdered human rights activist Marielle Franco was also taken down.

Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were killed in April while returning from an event focused on empowering young black women.

The G1 news portal reported that similar rulings have affected 13 universities in seven states.