Brazilians have taken to streets in protest to mourn the loss of rising politician Marielle Franco who was gunned down in an ambush Wednesday, March 14.
Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were shot by two attackers Wednesday night moments after Franco took part in a panel discussion called “Black Women Moving Structures.”
The 38-year-old was known for championing the downtrodden and giving a voice to the oppressed. In 2016, she was elected to office as a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSOL). She stayed true to her activist roots as she served as a Rio De Janerio city council member. Franco was a vocal critic of police brutality and police militarism in the favelas.
Authorities state that the assailants fired upon the vehicle nine times. The Associated Press reports that Brazilian officials believe that Franco was assassinated. Rio's Public Security Secretary Richard Nunes said in a statement there will be a "full investigation on the assassination" of both victims. Other reports say that Franco took four shots to the head.
A third person, an unidentified press officer in the vehicle, was injured by gunfire but survived.
“She had a very promising future,” said one of Franco’s old college professors, Ricardo Ismael. “She was already standing out in terms of debate, leadership capacity and intellect.”
Rio councillor Marielle Franco was shot four times in the head as she sat in her car. These protesters point the finger at the authorities. pic.twitter.com/SETACFPrpt— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 18, 2018
The AFP News Agency estimated that nearly 10,000 people flooded Sao Paulo demanding answers and an end to senseless violence.
Many considered Franco to be a spark for change. Franco bravely stood in the face of historic racial oppression and continued to fight.
“More than a friend, Marielle was a symbol of our biggest conquests," said Daiene Mendes, a journalism student. "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."