According to The Associated Press, Franco and her driver were shot by two attackers last night.
Police officers state that the unidentified men fired nine times into the car carrying the 38-year-old politician and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes. Franco took four of those nine shots to the head.
A third person, an unidentified press officer in the vehicle, was injured by gunfire but survived. Brazilian officials have called the attack an assassination, and Rio's Public Security Secretary Richard Nunes said in a statement there will be a "full investigation on the assassination" of both victims.
The Brazilian government put the military in charge of Rio de Janerio's police force in February in response to a spike in violence. Franco was elected in 2016. Prior to her political career, she was an activist calling out police brutality against black Brazilians and served as a voice for those living in the slums.
Twitter users were distraught upon hearing about Franco's death. Many believe that this assassination was indicative of racial strife against black people the nation has become known for.
Rest in Power: #MarielleFranco, black councilwoman critical of military police actions and anti-black genocide, was just assassinated in Rio deJaneiro, Brazil. #sayhername #alutacontinua #BlackLivesMatter #blackwomenslivesmater @profsassy @EricaLWilliams7 @democracynow @hrw pic.twitter.com/w2IqAAuzAm— Keisha-Khan Y. Perry (@drkeishakhan) March 15, 2018
User Ana Clara Otoni celebrated Franco's activism. She was an advocate for gender, racial and educational equality. Otoni believes that Franco's death coincides with her participating in a recent protest.
One of the biggest activist for gender equality, education, and peace at the slums in Brazil was murdered after participating in a protest called ”Young Blacks Women Moving the Structures”. #RIPMarielleFranco #MarielleFranco pic.twitter.com/2Cmz3gJvmW— ana c!ara otoni (@anaclaraotoni) March 15, 2018
#MarielleFranco was an expert on police violence and on Sat. accused officers of being overly aggressive in searching residents of gang-controlled shanty towns. Today she WAS MURDERED coming back home from a protest called ”Young Black Women Moving Structures”. #RIPMarielleFranco pic.twitter.com/2rhqIyRuCW— ana c!ara otoni (@anaclaraotoni) March 15, 2018
As a resident of the Mare slum, Franco knew firsthand of the struggles of being poor. She empathized with immigrants, refugees and other oppressed groups, and she vowed to fight for them.
#MarielleFranco was part of a vocal young generation of Black Brazilians. She came from a slum called Maré.— ana c!ara otoni (@anaclaraotoni) March 15, 2018
Marielle was always engaged in humans rights. In 2016, she received the fifth most votes among council members elected. SHE WAS MURDERED TODAY. #RIPMarielleFranco pic.twitter.com/luPjlzrZPD
The Grio co-founder David A. Wilson gave a touching tribute on Instagram detailing Franco's years of activism:
PLEASE READ: This is Marielle Franco a 38-year-old mother and popular councilwoman from Rio de Janeiro; the 5th most voted for in the city. She was a vocal critic of police brutality and their deadly violence against black people in the favelas, the city and country. A level of genocide and violence against us that is on par with what we see in Syria and Afghanistan. Yesterday evening she was on her way home from an event called “Jovens Negras Movendo as Estruturas” (Black Youth Moving the Structures) when her vehicle was shot up by “unknown” assailants. She died from four gunshots to the head, the driver was also killed and her adviser was struck by shrapnel. Many believe that her death was orchestrated by the very people she criticized so publicly. There is now a national outcry for justice and an end to the war against Black people here in Brazil — a nation that is 55% Black. For those of us in the United States, who have dedicated our lives and careers to the liberation and equality of Blacks in the U.S. and in the mother continent of Africa; now is the time to extend our attention and efforts to the 110 million of us living here in Brazil and the the tens of millions more throughout Latin America, who literally share our same blood, ancestors, history and struggles. We are the same people and we are bigger than the individual nations we were all taken to on slave ships. The war against Black people is global and as Dr. King once said, “None of us are free until all of us are free.” Let’s make sure our sister Marielle Franco’s life and death isn’t in vain. Let’s make sure the voice and the strength of our diaspora is felt beyond Black Panther’s box office numbers. Share her story. Demand justice. End the war on black people everywhere. Say Her Name! #MarielleFranco #sayhername #policeviolence #policebrutality #justiçaparamarielle #blackdiaspora #JusticeforMarielle #mariellepresente
Franco's last words were written in a tweet bringing attention to police brutality:
"Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?" she wrote.