Brazilians used this year's Carnival to demand answers about the death of Councilwoman Marielle Franco.
Franco was killed along with her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, in Rio de Janeiro in March 2018. Protests swept Brazil following her death, with many believing she had been assassinated, as Blavity reported. Known as an outspoken gay rights and anti-police brutality activist, Franco was also a politician and a leader in the fight against right-wing movements. Her murder is still unsolved.
Mangueira, one of Brazil’s most famous samba schools, led the Carnival protest, The Guardian reports.
Hundreds of Mangueira's students and Franco supporters waved red and green flags displaying the activist's face as they paraded through Rio’s Sambadrome.
The Washington Post reports protesters also held up posters with messages like, "Our weapon is education" and shirts reading "Fight like Marielle." The demonstrators were joined by Franco's widow, Monica Benício.
“I’ve come to protest, not to parade,” Benício said.
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“It has been a year since the incident,” Luyara Franco, Franco's daughter, said. “This Carnival full of tributes stresses we are still in this fight. The case has not been solved.”
Mangueira was joined in its tribute by other samba schools and local organizations. Franco was also honored at multiple smaller block parties, known as "blocos."
The late activist's sister and daughter attended one bloco and paraded through the streets holding a sign reading, "Marielle present!"
Benício joined another, marching with a Franco-emblazoned LGTBQ flag while dressed in a shirt reading, "Who killed Marielle?"
David Miranda, Franco's friend and a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party, said he was glad to see the public continue to put pressure on the authorities to solve the activist's murder.
“We want to remind the world that a political crime was committed in Brazil and this crime has still not been solved," Miranda said. "We need the world to keep paying attention to the situation to help us solve it."
Deivid Domenico, who was responsible for writing the samba anthem for Mangueira's Carnival performance this year, echoed Miranda's thoughts and said he now sees Franco as an opposition symbol.
“Marielle was a woman, a fighter, from the favela, who overcame inequality, went to university, was elected councilwoman, fought for minorities, denounced and investigated public power,” he said. "She was not only a human being, she was an idea, a force. She became a fighting flag.”
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