Thousands protest shooting of Brazilian city councilwoman Marielle Franco

World Today

This handout photo released on March 16, 2018 by Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Chamber shows Brazilian councilwoman from the left-wing party PSOL Marielle Franco, leading a session at the Municipal Chamber in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on February 21, 2017. On the eve of March 15, 2018 Franco, who was an outspoken critic of police brutality, was shot in Rio’s city center in an assassination-style killing. ( AFP PHOTO / Rio de Janeiro Municipal Chamber / Renan OLAZ )

Thousands have rallied across Brazil to protest the murder of a member of Rio de Janeiro’s City Council. Marielle Franco and her driver were gunned down Wednesday night.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports that the Black leader was an outspoken critic of Rio’s police brutality.

In Rio, crowds greeted the coffin of Marielle Franco, a rare scene in this violence-plagued city. Protesters demanding justice also marched in at least 10 other Brazilian cities.

“It’s like they are trying to silence the voice of all the black women in Brazil, and it’s extremely painful,” said marcher Larissa Neves.

Franco, a 38-year-old councilwoman, was a rising political star–a black, feminist leftist and a harsh critic of police brutality in Rio’s slums, where she grew up.

On Wednesday, she and her driver died after being shot nine times by two attackers. An aide who was also in the car survived.

Franco’s murder comes exactly one month after Brazil’s President Michel Temer decreed a military intervention to address the soaring levels of violence in the city’s favelas.

Temer promised a full investigation of the crime but said it would not affect the intervention that put the military in charge of Rio’s civilian police.

“That is why we decreed the intervention to end this rampant criminal activity, which organized criminals set up in the city,” said Brazilian President Michel Temer.

Between January and November last year, more than a thousand civilians were killed by police, while about two dozen officers died on duty during the same period–numbers that motivated Marielle Franco to denounce police excesses. 

The United Nations office in Brazil and Amnesty International have demanded justice for the dead protesters.

“It is very clear that it was a targeted killing, and therefore we are urging the Brazilian state to conduct a thorough, prompt and independent investigation,” said Human Rights Adviser Renata Neder of Amnesty International.

“However, mobilization is absolutely crucial at this time in order to pressure the Brazilian state, because otherwise the risk that the case remains uninvestigated and unpunished could be high,” she added.

There’s no primary suspect in the case but many here believe Franco was killed because of her fight against racism, poverty and injustice. Apparently, they say, that’s enough of a reason to be killed in Brazil.