Murder of Politician and Activist Marielle Franco Causes Outcry Throughout Brazil
Over the weekend, the death of Marielle Franco, 38, a well known human rights activist and politician caused uproar as tens of thousands of Brazilians mourned the passing of a champion.
On March 14, Franco was shot in her car in Rio de Janeiro. Minutes before she was killed, Franco had been attending an event promoting empowerment for black women.
According to police reports, an unknown car pulled up right next to Franco’s vehicle and proceeded to fire nine gunshots. Both Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were killed. Her press officer, who was sitting in the back seat of the car during the incident, survived with injuries.
Police officials believe Franco was a direct target.
Throughout her life and career, Franco campaigned against police brutality and was hailed by her admirers as a champion of women’s rights.
She grew up in Mare, a favela north of Rio de Janeiro, and was accustomed to seeing armed police officers patrol her neighborhood. She witnessed first hand the effects of over policing and was an outspoken critic of the deployment of federal troops in favelas.
Franco was a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party and was elected to the City Council of Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She was recently chosen to be the speaker of the commission, whose duty was to oversee the deployment of federal security forces into the various slums surrounding the city. As councillor, her goal was to help ensure that human rights would not be violated at the hands of security forces.
In a statement regarding Franco’s murder, Raul Jungmann, the Minister of Public Security said: “I would like to tell the friends [and] relatives of Marielle that we will find those responsible and punish them for this barbaric crime.”
Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International’s Brazil Director also commented on Franco’s tragic death, “This is a chilling development and is yet another example of the dangers that human rights defenders face in Brazil. As a member of Rio de Janeiro’s State Human Rights Commission, Marielle worked tirelessly to defend the rights of black women and young people in the favelas and other marginalized communities.”
People all over Brazil and members of the international community who stand in solidarity with Franco have voiced their outrage via social media, news outlets and have even taken to the street. They demand answers to Franco’s assassination and urge the government to do something about Brazil’s high rates of violence.
In a press statement, The Socialism and Liberty Party stated that “Marielle had just denounced the military police’s brutal and truculent operation in the Iraja region of the Acari community. We demand an immediate and rigorous investigation of this heinous crime. We will not keep quiet!”