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Killing of Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman Critical of Police Rattles Brazil

17 March 2018

Her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also killed when two unknown attackers fired an estimated nine shots into their auto, silencing one of Brazil's emerging voices for the underprivileged.

A picture of the Rio de Janeiro city councillor Marielle Franco outside the city-council chamber in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 15, 2018.

Police say her auto may have been tailed several miles before the killer fired, killing Franco and her driver, leaving an aide wounded, then disappearing.

The casings were for the nine-millimeter bullets used to kill Marielle Franco, 38, late Wednesday in the center of Rio.

Franco, an activist for human rights and women's causes, was killed along with her driver on Rio's risky north side around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

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Just last week, Cabral said she was with Franco at a meeting on Rio de Janeiro's military intervention.

It is important to mention the brutal murder occurred despite the military taking over the policing last month.

She won the fifth-highest vote count of council members in 2015, defying the odds which were set against her as a black, gay woman.

Black, lesbian and unusually vocal in castigating alleged killings by out-of-control police units in Rio's impoverished favelas, she had no interest in keeping a low profile.

Franco was born in a giant Rio favela - or shantytown - and was a powerful critic of Rio's military police and their tactics within these neighborhoods.

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Franco, who was raised in the Mare complex of slums, long one of Rio's more risky areas, received over 46,500 votes in the 2016 election.

Franco grew up in Maré-a complex of 16 favela communities and one of Rio's largest slums-and has been an outspoken advocate for favela residents denouncing police aggression. "How many more will have to die for this war to end?" she posted on Twitter. 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.

As night fell on Thursday, crowds gathered in Rio, Sao Paulo and several other cities, with protesters holding aloft banners calling for justice and an end to Brazil's endemic violence. Franco was a source of pride and hope particularly for Black youth and women, as she fought against the people in power on behalf of the neglected people of the favelas. "Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed", she wrote. "They come to kill our young!" she said. Throughout the day, worldwide human rights agencies, such as Amnesty global and Human Rights Watch called for a rigorous investigation of the crime.

Human rights groups condemned the killing of the human rights defender and called for investigation.

Investigators reportedly suspect that Franco, 38, was the victim of a targeted assassination.

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Brazil's public security minister, Raul Jungmann, said in a statement that federal police would help investigate.

Killing of Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman Critical of Police Rattles Brazil