Brazilian activist and councilwoman Marielle Franco was murdered almost a year ago on March 14 2018, along with her driver Anderson Gomes. Now almost a year since Franco’s brutal murder, suspects have been named and arrested in the case.
“Two police officers were arrested for direct and effective participation in the crime,” said Rio de Janeiro’s state police secretary, Marcus Vinícius Braga. “With these arrests, we get close to solving the crime.”
Franco was a well-known activist in Rio de Janeiro and she used her platform to speak out on police brutality and on the behalf of Black Brazilians who have been fighting the rampant racism in their country. Just a day before her death Franco had attended a discussion titled “Young Black Women Moving [Power] Structures” and just a couple of hours later was allegedly shot by the arrested suspect retired military officer Ronnie Lessa with the assistance of the expelled cop, and another suspect, Élcio Vieira Queiroz, who was driving the car.
Franco was clearly targeted given her candidness when speaking about the corruption that plagues the Brazilian police force and the color of her skin is what convinced the men that their actions would go unnoticed. Brazilian prosecutors have stated that Franco’s assassination was planned three months in advance by the two individuals, however, they are also now looking into whether Lessa and Queiroz were hired to kill Franco by someone else.
Following the arrests Gomes’ widow, Ágatha Reis spoke out. “It is a weight that is starting to lift off my shoulders,” Reis said. “I cannot be completely at peace. They still have to tell us who ordered these killings. It doesn’t end here.” Reis sentiments were echoed by supporters of Franco as #WhoOrderedMariellesMurder trended on Twitter soon after the arrests as well.
This is the first step towards justice for Franco and Gomes and it must not be the last.