Brazilians Protest After Black Human Rights Activist Is Murdered

City council member driver shot to death in downtown Rio

Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco was shot multiple times in the head when a vehicle pulled up alongside hers and at least two people opened fire on Wednesday night.

No suspects have been announced by police, but Ms Franco, who was 38, had ruffled many feathers - and that was her mission. Police say her auto may have been tailed several miles before the killer fired and then disappeared.

Late Wednesday, an attacker or attackers pulled up next to her white hatchback in Rio's centre and opened fire, hitting her several times in the head and also killing the driver and injuring an aide, then drove off.

Marcelo Crivella, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, called the murder a "brutal assassination".

Franco was elected onto the city's council in 2016 on a campaign that focused on police violence and the rights of women of women and people of African descent.

Black, lesbian and unusually vocal in castigating alleged killings by out-of-control police units in Rio's impoverished favelas, she had no interest in keeping a low profile.

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So far there are no indications of improvement in security in the city. She was recently appointed rapporteur of a municipal commission to monitor the federal intervention in policing Rio de Janeiro.

She was particularly known for speaking out against police violence and for social work in the poorest areas of a city, where Brazil's army has been responsible for policing since February after a surge in violence. Her strident defense of human rights was pepper spray to the police, whom she frequently called out for rogue behavior, as she did just last week.

A member of the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), she got the fifth highest vote count in Rio's 2016 council elections. She was an expert on police violence and on Saturday accused officers of being overly aggressive in searching residents of gang-controlled shantytowns. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed.

Ms. Franco was an expert on police violence and had been put in charge of a commission at City Hall meant to monitor the military intervention. "This week two youth were killed and tossed into a ditch".

The United Nations office in Brazil and Amnesty International demanded a quick, transparent investigation into Franco's killing. AI's Brazil director, Jurema Werneck, cited the shooting as "yet another example of the dangers that human rights defenders face in Brazil" and stated that the "Brazilian authorities must ensure a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into this tragic killing".

Temer issued a statement yesterday saying that Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann had discussed Franco's killing with the general in charge of the Rio military operation, "and made the federal police available to assist". An emergency decree was put into place to combat rising crime as the military took over Rio de Janeiro's security.

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