ActivismRaceSex & Gender

Politicians are involved in the murder of Brazilian afro-feminist activist Marielle Franco

August 13, 2018

It’s ironic that in a city where Christ stands the tallest, martyrs fall frequently. The martyr in question this time is Rio de Janiero councilwoman Marielle Franco, who was gunned down on the 14th of March this year as she and her driver were returning from a Black women’s empowerment event. Franco and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes were both killed in what police surmised was an assassination of the Brazilian politician.

Two police officials told Associated Press that two men in a car fired nine shots into the vehicle carrying Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes on Wednesday night. A press officer in the back seat was injured, but survived, the officials said. Both officials said it appeared Franco was targeted. – The Gaurdian

Franco (38) was a Black, lesbian single mother who championed the causes of the poor, the LGBTQ+ community and women in Brazil. She grew up in Rio’s Maré favela and dedicated her life to fighting for the marginalized communities ignored and brutalized by the Brazilian government. As a minority several times over in the Brazilian political sphere, Franco’s impact was evident, displayed by Franco being “the only black woman on Rio’s 51-member city council, having received the fifth most votes in the election that won her the seat,” according to Time. Franco’s former state legislature colleague and communications student Jefferson Barbosa told The Gaurdian “she was a symbol of the politics we believe in. I have never been so scared,” he said. “People are shocked with what happened. They did this to Mari, one of the most popular lawmakers in Rio. What will stop them doing this to others?”

Franco was a prominent critic of police violence in Rio de Janiero, making her an obvious target for the police. “Colleagues say the leftist politician was killed because she had angered police and underground paramilitary groups known as militias,” reported Standard Media. This theory was plausible owing to the 5 months passing by with no word on her case, until recently when Brazilian news outlets reported that politicians presumably linked to the murder are three Rio de Janeiro state deputies belonging to President Michel Temer’s MBD party who are in prison serving time for corruption.” Franco’s political mentor Marcelo Freixo discovered the existence of underground paramilitary groups in 2008 and was called to testify about the possible involvement of three jailed deputies in Franco’s murder.

Daiene Mendes, 28, a journalism student and an activist from the Complexo do Alemão favela, said: “More than a friend, Marielle was a symbol of our biggest conquests. A woman like us, black, from the favela, who had a lot of strength to face the institutional challenges of the politics that always kept us distant.” – The Gaurdian

“The reaction is of indignation, revolt and sadness,” said Matheus de Santos, 20, a truck driver’s assistant from Rio’s Cidade Alta neighborhood. “She was a great representative for the black movement, for the LGBT movement.” Brazil’s former president Dilma Rousseff described the activist as a ‘tireless social warrior’, whose death is clear indication of the lengths an unchecked police state will go to snuff out voices of dissent. This Black lesbian mother was brutally murdered because the ruling class were threatened by the growing presence of Franco and her party. That is the world we live in. A world where fighting for a voice is also fighting for our lives. In order for Franco’s sacrifices – and the sacrifices of women like her – to not be made in vain, we cannot remain silent.

“Being a black woman is to resist and survive all the time.” – Mariella Franco

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