A whole nation erupts in protests, as tens of thousands take to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and other cities across Brazil to mourn the assassination of a councilwoman whose political crusade was against police brutality.
Marielle Franco, from the favelas of Rio and of Afro-Brazilian descent, was murdered Wednesday night on March 14, after a barrage of bullets struck her vehicle. She was 38. Her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also shot dead. A backseat passenger survived with some injuries.
Local authorities told reporters two men in a car fired nine bullets at Franco’s vehicle. Moments before her untimely death, she participated in a panel discussion she live-streamed on her Facebook page called, “Black Women Moving Structures.”
Franco was a fierce champion of the disenfranchised in Brazil’s poorest slums, and staunchly advocated against police brutality and gang violence, which runs rampant throughout said favelas.
Given her background, earning a position as a city council member with the fifth highest vote among her peers, was a feat in and of itself. “She had a very promising future,” said one of Franco’s old college professors, Ricardo Ismael. “She was already standing out in terms of debate, leadership capacity and intellect.”
Franco was also a a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSOL), and recently accused a slew of police officials of being excessively violent when searching homes in slums that were controlled by gangs.
“More than a friend, 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,” said Daiene Mendes, a journalism student.