By: I. Maluf
This past month, Brazilians became outraged upon hearing about the death of a beloved councillor in Rio de Janeiro. Marielle Franco, 38, was murdered on March 14th by bullet wounds in what appears to be a target-assassination. Her driver was also shot dead in the same violent attack, and this has provoked various protests to happen throughout Brazil due to the population’s disbelief of the atrocity that was committed.
Franco was a activist and politician raised in the Maré favela in Rio. She was a minority within a minority in Brazil due to her being a black, lesbian single mother, and she was also the only Afro-Brazilian woman in Rio’s city council. She was a advocate for the minorities that are constantly mistreated in Brazil including women, Afro-Brazilians, people with low income and the LGBTQ community. She also publicly criticized President Michel Temer’s use of police and military intervention in the city and fought in the feminist movement in the city, where women, especially in the favelas, don’t have several fundamental basic rights.
Some believe that Franco was killed for protesting against the constant and vehement abuse of military and police power in Brazil, a situation that can be described as a “culture of impunity” in Brazilian law enforcement. Many affirm that her activism has created a lot of enemies.
Thousands of people have protested the councillor’s death in cities across Brazil, as well as in New York City, Paris, Berlin and other major cities in the world. According to Time Magazine, Franco’s name was mentioned in more than 3 million tweets in 54 different countries in the two days following her untimely death. The hashtags #MariellePresente (Marielle Is Here) and #SayHerName were used in social media to comment and raise awareness about her situation.
Brazilians are outraged at the lack of justice in the country, and the population is crying out for the end of the systemic prejudice and violence that plagues contemporary society. Unfortunately, this seems like something that will only be achievable in a distant future, but for now people will remember Marielle Franco and continue to fight towards her cause in solidarity.