Brazilian Activist Marielle Franco, Who Protested Police Violence, Has Been Assassinated

Brazilian Activist Marielle Franco, Who Protested Police Violence, Has Been Assassinated

Bullet casings at the scene of the apparent assassination of a black civil rights leader and city councilor in Rio de Janeiro once belonged to Brazil's federal police, Globo news reported Friday.

A member of the Socialism and Liberty Party, or PSOL, Franco was returning home from an event called "Young Black People Moving the Structures" in Lapa neighborhood when, according to witnesses, her vehicle was approached by another auto.

Karol Balfe, Head of From Violence to Peace at Christian Aid, said: "Christian Aid strongly condemns this week's killings of human rights defenders in Brazil, which are a chilling indictment of the grave threats faced by those speaking out against injustice". A press officer, who was with Franco in the back of the vehicle, was also injured, according to the police. Three days ago she denounced the deaths of two youths during a military police operation in Acari community. She was shot at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Estacio, a downtown neighbourhood, as she was returning from an event about empowering black women in Brazil, a cause she passionately championed.

"Another killing of a young man that could be chalked up to the police", she tweeted.

The city has been mired in violence for decades but the security situation has worsened dramatically since the end of the Olympic Games in 2016.

Police violence is a human rights crisis in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.

In 2016, Marielle was elected to the Rio de Janeiro city council.

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Franco was raised and lived in Mare, a complex of slums where about 130,000 residents must contend with the presence of Rio's two most powerful gangs - the Red Command and the Pure Third Command, along with militias often made up of off duty or retired police and fireman, who are as feared as the gangs. The assassination made national and global headlines, as demonstrators demanded a thorough investigation into the murder and vowed to carry on Franco's human rights work. Mathews Melo was leaving church.

A huge crowd marched to the Rio state assembly to protest the slaying of Marielle Franco, 38, the previous day.

Franco was a beacon of hope of the people of Rio, which is plagued by a plethora of issues including poverty. "How many more will have to die for this war to end?" she wrote on her personal Twitter account.

An expert on police violence [Guardian report], Franco was critical of the police and their alleged killings of innocent victims during interactions with drug gangs. "They come to kill our young!" she said. The army general in charge of the federal intervention in Rio should guarantee investigators the necessary resources and independence to identify the murderers, Human Rights Watch said.

Amnesty International have expressed condemnation at the councillor's murder and called for the authorities to investigate the fatal shootings.

Rio's chief of public security promised a "full investigation", the Guardian reports.

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