By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A Rio de Janeiro councilwoman was shot to death after leaving a town meeting in downtown Rio on Wednesday night. Marielle Franco was a human rights activist and favela-community resident who recently was chosen by the city’s legislature to monitor the military intervention issued by President Michel Temer for the state of Rio de Janeiro.
“Marielle’s performance as a councilwoman and as a human rights activist makes the entire PSOL (Socialist and Liberty Party) proud and we will honor her by continuing her struggle,” said the left-wing party in a statement. The party also demanded ‘immediate and rigorous’ investigation into the circumstances of the crime.
“All the characteristics are those of an execution. Obviously we will wait for the conclusions of the police, it is up to the police to do the investigation, but we will want answers. We want it sorted out, as fast as possible,” Congressional representative from PSOL and a close friend of Franco, Marcelo Freixo.
Franco was elected to Rio’s legislature in 2015 with the fifth highest votes and was very active in women’s rights, especially Rio’s black women who lived in favela communities and face domestic violence and human rights violations.
Recently Franco had also started speaking against the military intervention declared by the federal government last month.
On Tuesday through social media Franco protested the death of a 23-year-old youth last week. “One more homicide of a young man which may be attributed to the PM (Military Police). Matheus Melo was leaving church. How many more will have to die for this war to end?” she inquired.
Days before Franco had criticized the brutality of the military police in favela-communities. “What is happening now in Acari is absurd, and it has always happened! The 41st PM Battalion is known as the Death Battalion,” the favela-born sociologist, who after obtaining a graduate degree at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) continued to battle for the rights of favela residents.
On Thursday, marches protesting the assassination of the councilwoman are scheduled in some of Brazil’s largest state capitals. According to organizers, the marches will protest the ‘black genocide’ taking place in the country today.