Black Brazilians have lost one of their biggest champions as beloved activist and politician, Marielle Franco, was assassinated Wednesday night after speaking at a Black women’s empowerment event.
A self-described “child from the favela da Maré,” one of Rio’s most impoverished areas, 38-year-old Franco received over 46,000 votes—an impressive feat for a Black woman running for office—to become a councilwoman in 2016 as a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). She also served as the President of the House Committee on Women, where she worked to end violence against women and was a vocal opponent of police brutality against Black Brazilians.
According to reports, Franco was leaving her event Wednesday evening when a car pulled up alongside her and fired nine shots into her vehicle. Both Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were killed. A press officer who was sitting in the back seat at the time of the shooting was also injured.
Officials believe the attack was a targeted assassination and police have opened an investigation.
News of Franco’s death has already sparked anger and protests in Rio, with the Human Rights Watch organization calling for a “rigorous investigation and the accountability of those involved.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald called Franco’s death a “hideous loss.”
Though she was critical of the country’s military police being deployed into Rio’s favelas, Brazil’s Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann said federal police would aid in the investigation into Franco’s murder.
In addition to her legacy of activism and tireless advocacy for Brazil’s most vulnerable communities, Franco leaves behind a teenage daughter.