‘An execution’

Popular Brazilian politician, 38, killed in apparent assassination

MARIELLE FRANCO. (Twitter / Midia NINJA)

Rio de Janeiro councilor Marielle Franco, 38, was shot dead alongside her driver in an apparent assassination on Wednesday night. The popular Brazilian politician, who was black, gay, and an outspoken and active defender of the poor, had sent ripples through the political establishment when she was elected to the Rio city council in 2016. She was known for her social work in the favelas — the sprawling ghettos that house almost one-quarter of Rio’s population — and for her vocal critiques of police, whom she accused of targeting favela residents with brutality and extra-judicial killings.

According to two police officials who spoke with The Associated Press, two men in a car fired nine shots into the vehicle carrying Franco, killing her, her driver, and injuring a press officer in the back seat. Both officials said that the gunshots appeared to be specifically targeted at Franco. Marcelo Freixo, a member of the Rio legislative assembly, said that he had seen the crime scene and that it was clearly “an execution” perpetrated by “a professional” hired killer. Richard Nunes, Rio’s head of public security, has promised a “full investigation” into the murders.

Thousands swept into the streets on Thursday and gathered outside the Rio council chamber to pay tribute to Franco, and to protest the circumstances behind her death. The crowd, which largely consisted of union members, feminists, leftists, and residents from the favelas, could be heard chanting “not one step backwards.”

Aerial view from the demonstration against the murder of Brazilian councilwoman and activist Marielle Franco in front of Rio’s Municipal Chamber, downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 15, 2018. Brazilians mourned for the Rio de Janeiro councilwoman and outspoken critic of police brutality who was shot in the city center in an assassination-style killing on the eve. (MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Before her death, Franco had been outspoken in her condemnation of police brutality. According to state government figures, 154 people were killed by police in January — a 57 percent increase compared to January 2017. In February, President Michel Temer officially put the military in charge of policing the city, and had an army general begin leading controversial raids on the favelas in the name of curbing gang activity and crime.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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