Marielle Franco: politician's murder sparks mass protests in Brazil

In February Temer decided the federal intervention of Rio de Janeiro state giving the army control over police fire departments and the prison system in the region

In February Temer decided the federal intervention of Rio de Janeiro state giving the army control over police fire departments and the prison system in the region

In addition to being an activist against police violence, Franco was also known for her social work and for fighting for the rights of black women and youth as well as other marginalized communities.

Two police officials told Associated Press that two men in a auto fired nine shots into the vehicle carrying the popular 38-year-old councillor and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes. Her driver was also killed and an aide lightly injured in a brazen attack that sparked protests by thousands in Rio and Sao Paulo on Thursday. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. "How many more will have to die for this war to end?" she wrote on her personal Twitter account.

Born in a favela and active in black rights movements, it was not surprising that Ms Franco's last act before getting in the fateful vehicle had been to participate in a debate on black empowerment in the trendy Lapa neighbourhood.

The governor of the state of Rio, Luiz Fernando Pezao, called Franco a "warrior", and described her killing as an "extreme act of cowardice".

The attack came just a month after President Michel Temer put the military in charge of security in Rio, which is experiencing a spike in violence less than two years after hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Ms. Franco, who was elected to the City Council in 2016, had been a vocal critic of the measure, saying that it threatened to raise bloodshed without addressing the root causes of violence.

Amnesty International have expressed condemnation at the councillor's murder and called for the authorities to investigate the fatal shootings.

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Investigators reportedly suspect that Franco, 38, was the victim of a targeted assassination. "The State must protect witnesses and survivors, identify the motive for Marielle's murder and bring the culprits to justice".

"The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions should carry out an immediate visit to Brazil to highlight this crisis and engage with the Brazilian government and other actors to protect the lives of Brazilian human rights defenders".

Local media outlets compared Thursday's nationwide protests to the demonstrations held after the assassination of union leader and environment activist Chico Mendes in 1988.

Many people wore black and chanted slogans against the police, such as: "Enough killing". According to Human Rights Watch, Rio police have killed over 8,000 people over the past decade.

"Another killing of a young man that could be chalked up to the police." she tweeted. "Another killing of a young man that could be chalked up to the police. They remove corpses from crime scenes and deliver them to hospitals, claiming they were trying to "rescue" them", said a report from the organization.

She often spoke openly about the need to crack down on discrimination against minority groups, as well as police violence who she said exercised excessive force.

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