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Very Real

Thousands Across Brazil Protest The Murder Of Activist, Politician Marielle Franco

Marielle Franco, who fought for the rights of marginalized communities, was shot dead on Wednesday night. Thousands are demanding justice.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Following the murder of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco, tens of thousands across Brazil have gathered in protest.

Franco, a champion of human rights, was shot dead in her car on Wednesday night, along with her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes. Franco and Gomes, as well as Fernanda Chaves, a press secretary employed by Franco, were in Rio's Estacio neighborhood when a car pulled up alongside them and someone inside shot at them, CNN reports, striking Franco in the head four times. Chaves, who was sitting next to Franco in the back seat at the time of the shooting, survived, but was injured.

Brazilian President Michel Temer called the killings a "cowardly attack" while tens of thousands of Brazilian citizens took to the streets in major cities like Rio, Sao Paulo, and many others, to demand justice for Franco and Gomes.

Franco, member of the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party, was known for being an advocate for marginalized communities, and often spoke out against the police violence that occurs in shantytowns, or favelas.

"Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?" wrote Franco in one of her last Twitter updates.

[Photo: Facebook]

Franco was killed leaving her rally for better treatment of black women, the Los Angeles Times reports. The United Nations office in Brazil, Amnesty International, and many other human rights groups are calling for an investigation into the deaths of Franco and Gomes.

"This is a chilling development and is yet another example of the dangers that human rights defenders face in Brazil," said Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International's Brazil director.

Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann said the federal government will use all resources available to find her killers, further commenting, "Justice will be done."

Weeks before Franco's death, government gave military power over the police, in an effort to combat a surge of political violence, Reuters reports. Franco, who had been appointed to serve on a special commission to monitor the military intervention, reportedly criticized the move, theorizing that it would only increase police violence against residents.

"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.

An investigator with the city's police force told Reuters that the prime motive appeared to be Franco's calling out police for allegedly killing innocent people in their constant warfare with drug gangs.

[Header Photo: Demonstrators cry out in Sao Paulo on March 18, 2018, after the murder of Councillor Marielle Franco and her driver Gomes on March 14, 2018. Photo by Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty Images]