Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

Rio de Janeiro councilwoman, critic of police killings, shot dead

Rio de Janeiro councilwoman, critic of police killings, shot dead

The uproar caused by the murder of City Council member Marielle Franco (PSOL), 38, has reinforced concerns regarding Rio's federal intervention and put pressure on the military, now responsible for policing the city.

A crowd pays tribute to Marielle Franco, the councillor and human rights activist who was gunned down on Wednesday.

A member of the Socialism and Liberty Party, or PSOL, Franco was returning home from an event called "Young Black People Moving the Structures" in Lapa neighborhood when, according to witnesses, her vehicle was approached by another auto.

Raul Jungmann, who heads the federal government's newly created Public Security Ministry, said at an event in Sao Paulo that what Franco's killing was "a tragedy". The councilor's press officer, who was in the backseat, was hit by glass fragments and injured but survived.

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Ms. Franco grew up in Maré, a district in northern Rio de Janeiro that is among the largest in the city's constellation of favelas, largely impoverished districts that were initially settled by squatters. 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.

Just a day before her death, Franco blamed police for the killing of a young man in a favela.

The killing came just weeks after the Brazilian government made a decision to let the military take over all security operations in Rio to control the city's increasing crime rates.

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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One of Franco's last posts on Twitter called attention to police violence.

In city council elections in 2016 she surprised everyone, including herself, by getting 46,000 votes, the fifth biggest tally of anyone running. She also served as the President of the House Committee on Women, where she worked to end violence against women and was a vocal opponent of police brutality against Black Brazilians. Mathews Melo was leaving church. "This week two youth were killed and tossed into a ditch".

Flowers, pictures and condolence messages are amassing outside the city council offices, paying tribute to a charismatic young woman with a long record of championing social causes in a metropolis plagued by issues of violence, race and poverty. Throughout the day, worldwide human rights agencies, such as Amnesty global and Human Rights Watch called for a rigorous investigation of the crime.

One investigator in the police force said the major reason for for her assassination seems to be her calling out police for allegedly killing innocents in their constant battles with drug gangs. An emergency decree was put into place to combat rising crime as the military took over Rio de Janeiro's security.

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