Demonstrations erupt in Brasilia
A police officer fires a shotgun as supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro protest in Brasilia, Brazil, December 12, 2022. Reuters

Supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday attempted to invade the federal police headquarters in Brasilia, the capital, protesting the arrest of an indigenous leader in the first major flash of post-election violence.

Television images, as well as videos shared by federal police officers with Reuters, showed burned-out cars, a bus that had been set on fire, and the sound of explosions and what appeared to be rubber bullets being fired.

Bolsonaro supporters, wearing their trademark yellow national soccer jerseys, could be seen rushing from the scene with sticks and throwing rubble.

The attempted invasion came after Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who has led controversial probes into Bolsonaro and his allies, on Monday ordered the temporary arrest of Jos? Ac?cio Serere Xavante for allegedly carrying out anti-democratic acts.

It came on the same day that the country's federal electoral court (TSE) certified the Oct. 30 election victory of Bolsonaro's leftist rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as president. After months of baseless suggestions that the country's electronic voting system is liable to fraud, Bolsonaro has yet to concede defeat to Lula, but he has not blocked the handover of power.

The incident raises major security concerns about Jan. 1, when Lula takes office.

Many of Bolsonaro's supporters have refused to accept defeat, camping outside military bases across the country, urging the Armed Forces to overturn the result. Xavante is one of the people involved in such protests.

"I cannot accept criminals reigning in Brasil," Xavante tweeted last month. "Lula cannot be certified."

On Monday, Bolsonaro met with hundreds of supporters in Brasilia and watched in silence, hugging young children, as they prayed for him. Last week, breaking weeks of post-election silence, Bolsonaro said his situation "hurts my soul."

"Who decides where I go are you. Who decides which way the armed forces go are you," Bolsonaro told his supporters at the gates of the presidential residence on Friday.

In its statement, the Supreme Court said Moraes "decreed the temporary arrest, for 10 days, of the indigenous Jos? Ac?cio Serere Xavante, due to evidence of the commission of crimes of threat, persecution and violent abolition of the Democratic State of Law."

It said Xavante had led protests across Brasilia and had used "his position as chief of the Xavante people to enlist indigenous and non-indigenous people to commit crimes," threatening Lula and Supreme Court justices.

Xavante had "expressly summoned armed people to prevent the certification of elected" politicians, the statement added.

Tensions spilled over after the arrest.

Brazil's incoming justice minister, Flavio Dino, tweeted that "the depredation and attempted invasion of the Federal Police building in Brasilia are unacceptable. Court orders must be complied with by the Federal Police.

"Those who consider themselves harmed must offer the appropriate resources, never practice political violence," he added.

The Federal Police and Brasilia's Military Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brazil's President Bolsonaro meets supporters at the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on, as he meets supporters at the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, December 12, 2022. Reuters
Supporters of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro protest against Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brasilia
Supporters of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro take part in a protest against Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, December 12, 2022. Reuters