February 15, 2006

Rio police to occupy slums for Rolling Stones show

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Police will occupy slums
next to Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach for this weekend's
Rolling Stones concert to safeguard the trouble-prone area of
the city, officials said on Wednesday.

Rio de Janeiro State Public Security Secretary Marcelo
Itagiba criticized the choice of the venue by municipal
authorities, but said everything will be done to prevent
clashes, robberies and theft during Saturday night's free
mega-show, when 1.5 million people are expected.

"I don't think the venue is ideal either from the point of
view of security or tranquillity for residents," Itagiba told

He complained that private security hired by organizers
will be paid, while police will do the hard work without any
extra compensation.

The concert is being financed by the Rio municipality and
two telecommunications companies.

Itagiba said the show was potentially more dangerous than
the annual New Year celebrations on Copacabana, as
approximately the same number of people will be concentrated on
just one-third of the famous beach.

"It's a huge mass of people in one spot, and it is not
exactly a quiet show with classical music," Itagiba said.

A massive stage is being constructed on the sand opposite
the elegant Copacabana Palace Hotel where the veteran British
rockers will stay. Hotels are booked solid by fans and
apartments overlooking the beach have been rented out.

More than 2,600 police officers will patrol Copacabana and
oversee the crowd from 23 purpose-built towers.

In all of the city, 6,000 police will be deployed as part
of the security scheme for the concert.

Police will occupy three shanty-towns in and around the
Copacabana area and will also reinforce patrols around more
than 20 other slums. Many Rio slums are controlled by powerful
drug gangs and are not patrolled by police. Violent crime often
spills over from the slums into city streets.

Some 6,600 people were killed last year in Rio, which has a
population of 6 million. Copacabana is a haunt for prostitutes
and drug dealers at night, and robberies occur there often
during daytime.

(Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca)