Thousands are mourning the death of Marielle Franco, a 38-year-old mother, popular councilwoman and candid activist from Rio de Janeiro. Franco was murdered Wednesday night when returning from the Jovens Negras Movendo Estruturas (Young Black Women Moving Structures), an event hosted by Franco which focused on empowering young black women.
The councilwoman was shot in the head four times when her car was shot up by unknown perpetrators, who seemingly knew exactly where to find her. Franco’s driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes was also killed and press officer and advisor, Fernanda Chaves was wounded.
Franco, who was elected two short years ago in 2016, was a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party. She was known for her social work in favelas, or poor marginalized shantytowns and was a very vocal critic of police brutality and their deadly violence against black people. According to CBS News, “Rio’s police force is one of the most deadly in the world. In 2016, 925 people were killed during police operations, according to the think tank Brazilian Public Security Forum. Tallies by human rights groups put the 2017 number over 1,000.”
Franco, an Afro-Latina, grew up knowing life in favelas well and took advantage of her platform and position to advocate for the people of Brazil who needed her most. Her rise in politics was especially notable as most politicians are white men, in a city made up of more than half of its citizens who identify as Black or mixed race.
The callous murder of councilwoman Franco has shaken Brazil and people everywhere are mourning the loss of her life.
Marielle Franco was everything Rio de Janeiro needed in a politician. she was radical, she was courageous, she was empathetic, she was kind. this is exactly why she was executed. pic.twitter.com/k23Mec8obC
— Marielle Franco, presente! (@NicoleFroio) March 15, 2018
Every now and then you meet someone in politics that makes you believe that the whole thing is worth it, despite all the dirt and decay and corruption that drowns it, that it can actually improve things for people. @mariellefranco was one of those people – for so many. #RIP pic.twitter.com/JJtXnkgrlJ
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 15, 2018
Saddens me to hear that #Mariellefranco who dedicated her life to fighting against racism, prejudice & police violence in Rio de Janeiro, was assassinated last night. COME ON BRAZIL STAND UP 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/A7OHwOU77y
— Naomi Campbell (@NaomiCampbell) March 15, 2018
I am heart broken. Rest in Power to #MarielleFranco, a radical black councilwoman assassinated in Rio deJaneiro, Brazil. Respect the work of Black women who put their lives on the line. Don’t wait for tragedy to say our names. Don’t wait until I am dead to appreciate my efforts. pic.twitter.com/Xczi8orzuc
— Brittany T. Oliver ♀ (@brittuniverse) March 16, 2018
With Franco’s untimely death, questions are being raised about the effectiveness of the country’s military police. Many believe that her death was arranged by those she publicly condemned. As news of the attack spread, so did the national outcry for justice to end to the war against Black people in Brazil. Several thousand people gathered in front of Rio’s city hall and thousands more followed in procession as the caskets were carried to their respective burial sites.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 16, 2018
As Americans, we are very aware of the long, painful history of police brutality against black people and people of color, and we would be fools to think it only happens in America. The killing or councilwoman Marielle Franco has made it realer than ever; people of color are struggling, suffering and being discriminated against and killed globally. What was true in Dr. King’s time, remains relevant as ever, “None of us are free, until all of us are free.” So what now? As always, we Demand Justice. Let’s make sure councilwoman Franco’s story is heard far and wide. We cannot allow her death to be in vain. #SayHerName