Tension is growing in Brazil over “rolezinhos” (“little strolls”), which are flash-mob style gatherings of teenagers from poor urban areas (favelas) in the country’s luxury shopping centres. Sometimes hundreds of teens meet in these malls, which are largely used by Brazil’s wealthy minority, to party, dance, and sing funk songs. Recently, the police sparked outrage after using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the teenagers.
On Sunday, one of Rio’s biggest malls closed to avoid a planned “rolezinhos”, prompting a sit-in by activists.
It all started on December 7, when hundreds of youth from the suburbs of Sao Paulo gathered for a "rolezinho" in one of the city’s largest malls. Their presence sent wealthy shoppers into a panic and store owners called the police.
Since the police crackdown, "rolezinhos" have been increasing, with dozens planned in the coming days in both Sao Paulo and Rio. The Facebook page “Partiu, rolezinho no shopping
”, through which gatherings are organised, has more than 10,000 fans.
With the World Cup just months away, this phenomenon has Brazilian politicians worried. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has expressed concern that "rolezinhos" could lead to a new wave of protests similar to those that wracked the country last June.