The regional metropolitan capital of Vitoria, about 300 miles southeast of Rio de Janeiro, is at the center of the protests with the city’s streets marked by violent assaults and armed confrontations.
The fear of violence had left Vitoria without key services such as public transport, access to health clinics and public schools. Since Monday, Brazil’s central government has sent hundreds of troops to patrol the streets in a bid to restore order.
Police demands for a salary increase led to the work stoppage that has left this portion of Espirito Santo paralyzed.
Since the military police is barred from striking, family members have organized blockades in front of police headquarters to prevent vehicles from leaving the stations.
Espirito Santo Gov. Paulo Hartung said the stoppage was akin to “public blackmail.”
“It’s as if the liberty and rights of the citizens of Espirito Santo have been kidnapped and held for ransom,” Mr. Hartung was quoted as saying in Globo.
The families at the center of the blockades defended their actions.
“When your rights and dignity are taken away, the only option left is a radical one,” protest spokesperson Maluma Pereira Jordao Roepke — who is also married to one of the military police officers — told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Mr. Jordao Roepke said officers have been waiting seven years for a salary adjustment. “The families want to reach an agreement with the government.”
The two sides are expected to meet Friday in a bid to resolve the situation.
On Monday, Brazil’s federal government announced the deployment of 1,000 military troops to Espirito Santo after regional authorities pleaded for assistance. Other states also contributed up to 200 National Guard reserves that are normally used in emergency situations.