Brazilian activist Marielle Franco murdered
O n Wednesday March 14, Brazilian activist and Rio de Janeiro city council member Marielle Franco was assassinated. That evening after leaving an event, an unidentified car approached her vehicle, and two men fired nine shots into its back window, killing Franco and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes, and injuring a press officer. Authorities have yet to bring anyone up on charges in the case, and given the circumstances, the international community is calling for an independent investigation of Franco’s death.
Franco had become a champion for the city’s impoverished neighbourhoods -- known as favelas -- and was a known opponent of growing police and military control in Rio de Janeiro, often publicly criticizing the violent behaviour of law enforcement in the city. January of this year saw a 57 per cent increase in deaths resulting from police action, compared to January of last year. Franco called out the actions of Rio’s 41st police battalion, a group connected to several killings in the city, most recently those of two men from the Acari favela who were found in a drainage ditch earlier this month. Two days prior to her killing, she condemned the murder of Matheus Melo, a young Black man who was killed by police after leaving a church service in Rio’s Jacarezinho favela.
Franco, a gay Black woman from Rio’s Mare favela, was the fifth most-voted-for candidate in the 2016 municipal elections. Her death sparked international outrage and incited protests. A fellow activist and attendee at one of these protests, journalism student Daiene Mendes, told the Guardian that “Marielle was a symbol of our biggest conquests. A woman like us, Black, from the favela, who had a lot of strength to face the institutional challenges of the politics that always kept us distant.”