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Brazil mourns lesbian activist assassinated in drive-by shooting

Brazil mourns lesbian activist assassinated in drive-by shooting

Marielle Franco stands smiling at camera on the street of a rio favela

One of Rio de Janeiro’s most admired political activists was gunned down in violent drive-by shooting as Brazil reels from her shocking murder.

Marielle Franco, 38, was shot on Wednesday night as she returned home after attending an event promoting empowerment for black women when she was killed.

A car pulled up beside her and shot nine bullets killing Franco, her driver and injuring her press secretary.

The AP reported she was shot three times in the head.

Franco was a lesbian, black city councillor who spoke out for disenfranchised communities, especially for Rio’s most poor people in the favelas (slums).

She was also a passionate LGBTI advocate and had tried to start a lesbian visibility day.

Franco was a very vocal critic of Rio’s police violence and was very opposed to the federal military intervention in the favelas.

‘This a chilling development and is yet another example of the dangers that human rights defenders face in Brazil,’ said Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International’s Brazil director.

‘As a member of Rio de Janeiro’s State Human Rights Commission, Marielle worked tirelessly to defend the rights of black women and young people in the favelas and other marginalized communities.’

The city came to a standstill on Thursday with thousands attending an impromptu rally outside of Franco’s memorial service and burial.

Thousands of people also took to the streets around Brazil, especially in São Paulo, to protest her murder.

Franco won her seat on the city council in 2016 against all odds and with the fifth-highest amount of votes out of the 51 councillors.

Raised in one of Rio’s most dangerous favelas, Mare, Franco never tired when it came to standing up to police violence.

She was a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) and was a symbol of hope for many minority groups.

Mourning Marielle

Recently appointed rapporteur of a municipal commission to monitor the federal intervention in policing Rio de Janeiro, Franco had a lot of opinions about the plans.

According to Fairfax Media ‘police, prosecutors and even drug gang leaders said looked like a political assassination’.

‘The scene is clearly of an execution,’ said Marcelo Freixo of Franco’s Socialism and Liberty Party.

‘The shots were all directed at her. They were all from a professional.’

Brazil is a very dangerous country for LGBTI people and has more than one murder per day of an LGBTI person.