Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The police union in Vitória said at least 101 people have been killed in the Brazilian city's metropolitan area since the start of a military police strike.
Although the Brazilian Army deployed 200 soldiers to Vitória, the capital of the Espírito Santo state, crime rates continue to surge since police stopped operations Saturday morning.
At least 200 cars were reported stolen on Wednesday throughout the state, up from a daily average of 20. The military police demand better working conditions and an increase in pay after years of frozen wages, arguing their average monthly salary of $830 is below the national average.
Espírito Santo Gov. Paulo Hartung said the police's actions are "illegal blackmail," Jornal O Globo reported. Many protesters have come out to the streets to oppose the police strike.
Officials have closed schools, public health clinics and city administrative offices in the Vitória metropolitan area until the situation is resolved. Bus routes and schedules in the city have also been affected out of fear of violence.
Government officials have demanded the strike end before holding negotiations with the police union. Families of the police officers on strike have protested in front of police stations because the officers are prohibited from taking part in demonstrations.
In the midst of the chaos Wednesday night, a vehicle brandishing a projector that displayed the words #SemMedo -- #WithoutFear -- drove throughout the streets of Vitória while playing John Lennon's iconic "Imagine."