Thousands protest the killing of Brazilian councilwoman and activist

Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets of popular Rio de Janeiro city to protest the murder of a councilwoman, who had campaigned and publicly spoken against police brutality.

Investigators, prosecutors and even drug gang leaders said the shooting of 38-year-old Rio city Councillor Marielle Franco, a rising star in the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) and her
driver on Wednesday, appeared to be a political assassination.

Marielle Franco seen by many as an activist for human rights and champion of women's rights, was killed on Rio’s dangerous north side around 9:30 p.m. while her press secretary suffered minor injuries but was not shot.

“It is far too soon to say, but we are obviously looking at this as a murder in response to her political work, that is a main theory,” said a Rio de Janeiro public prosecutor.

Rivaldo Barbosa, head of Rio’s Civil Police, told reporters, “One of the possibilities in analysis is, yes, an execution.”

Brazil's federal government had, a few week ago, declared that the country's army would take over security operations through the end of the year in Rio, a city with a very sharp rise in murder cases. The decision was strongly condemned by Franco, who was made part of a commission that would oversee the military intervention, insisting that it could worsen police violence against residents.

One investigator in the police force said the major reason for for her assassination seems to be her calling out police for allegedly killing innocents in their constant battles with drug gangs.

Crowds gathered in Rio, Sao Paulo and several other cities on Thursday night, bearing banners calling for justice and an end to Brazil’s endemic violence.

“The path of her own fight is what gives us the strength to carry on,” said Danielle Ramos, 26, who was attending a rally in Rio de Janeiro in front of the city council building, along with thousands of others.

“The best way to honor Marielle is to dedicate every second of our days to the fight that she was a part of,” said Ramos, part of the Olga Benario Womens’ Movement, which battles against violence.


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