Rio de Janeiro councillor shot dead in apparent targeted killing

Aaron Brown
March 16, 2018

Less than two hours before she was murdered on the evening of March 14, Rio de Janeiro city councilor Marielle Franco was speaking at a roundtable of black women activists about "young black women moving the structures". Last Saturday, she denounced the actions of the 41 Battallion of the military police (who were doing public policing before the intervention) who she said were "terrorizing" residents of a favela called Acari, acting with a new sense of impunity since the suspension of civilian laws.

The official revealed details on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly. As she was leaving, a auto pulled up and fired nine shots into her vehicle, killing Franco and her driver and wounding her press officer.

Brazil's military is in charge of public security in the country's second largest city after a surge in violence. "They come to kill our young!" she said.

The murder of a popular advocate for the city's most vulnerable citizens suggests that an already fraught situation in Rio is about to get even worse.

- Ana c!ara otoni (@anaclaraotoni) March 15, 2018#MarielleFranco was an expert on police violence and on Saturday accused officers of being overly aggressive in searching residents of gang-controlled shanty towns.

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In city council elections in 2016 she surprised everyone, including herself, by getting 46,000 votes, the fifth biggest tally of anyone running.

A crowd of several thousand gathered there Thursday, brandishing slogans alleging that Franco was executed, and demanding that Rio's military police be disbanded.

Just a day before her death Franco blamed police for the latest shooting death of a young man in a favela, where police, shadowy militias and heavily armed drug gangs wrestle for control. "Matheus Melo was leaving the church".

Legendary Brazilian singer Elza Soares, who is black, tweeted that this was "one of the few times when I can't find my voice. How many more have to die for this war to end?"

The deployment of Brazil's military - which security analysts say has so far failed to make any obvious difference - was strongly criticized by Franco who feared this would lead to still more bloodshed and human rights abuses. Dozens, from all angles, shared by the networks, images with subtitles as 'all pierced.' The banality of evil.

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