They killed Marielle Franco – for doing good

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They killed Marielle Franco – for doing good

She was a young, black, city councillor. She was a bright hope for the people in her favela in Rio and in Brazil. Vanessa Baird writes about the killing of hope.


Marielle Franco. Photo: Mídia NINJA (CC 2.0)

Everyone will agree that Marielle Franco was a woman of courage. She was a 38-year-old favela activist. She was killed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March 2018,

She was a popular, outspoken city councillor, and human rights activist. When she was attacked, she was on her way back from a meeting called ‘Young Black Women Who Are Changing Power Structure’.

The killers drove by and killed her in her car They also killed her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, 39.

Who was behind the killing? No one knows for sure. But she protested against police violence – and using the military in Rio – the idea of President Michel Temer’s government. In Rio state 154 people were killed ‘in opposition to the police’ in January 2018, 57 per cent more than the year before.


Photo: Romerito Pontes. (CC 2.0)

Marielle was against all violence. She supported poor people, black people, women, and LGBT rights. She led dangerous protests against police violence, corruption, and illegal murders of the poor, black people, she grew up with.

And she was a brilliant organizer. I saw this in June 2017 in the favela of Maré. During a weekend for ‘Rights to the Favela’, she brought together 200 activists from some of the toughest favelas.

Marielle inspired people through her own life experience. She was born and grew up in Maré. She was a teenage mother. She became an activist after a friend was killed by accident during a shootout between police and gang members.

She got a scholarship, studied social sciences at university, and later a masters in public administration. Then she gave what she learned back to the favela.

In 2016 she was voted a Rio city councillor. She won with 46,000 votes.

Marielle explained why she decided to be a councillor, ‘The state is the biggest violator but it is also the way we can get our rights.’


Flavinha Candicle

Glenn Greenwald was a friend. He writes: ‘What is most terrible about Franco’s murder is how unlikely it was that she became a councillor. She was a black LGBT+ woman in a country full of racism, sexism, and traditional religious ideas. She grew up in one of Rio’s biggest, poorest. and most violent favelas.’

Marielle touched many lives. When I was in Maré last year, I interviewed Flavinha Candicle. She told me how Marielle changed her life. ‘It’s thanks to her that I studied and got an education,’ she said. Many others have stories like this.

She was in PSOL (The Socialism and Freedom party). It is a small leftist party that corruption has not touched.

She was killed one month after President Temer ordered the army to occupy the city. She protested strongly against this. and she was going to lead a commission to investigate its possible tax crimes. Three days before her death she also protested against police officers involved in the deaths of youths in the favela of Acari.


Photo: Romerito Pontes. (CC 2.0)

Some unnamed police officers and prosecutors told Reuters that perhaps her murder was because of her political work or her protests against the police. On his blog Cafezinho, Miguel do Rosario writes: ‘She was one of the most important protesters against the stupid idea of using military for the problem of public security in Rio. She was killed, possibly, for that reason. Her ideas live still and we will fight for them. Marielle, your protests continue.’

‘We will continue your fight and we will grow bigger everyday. That’s what we can say at this time of great pain,' said Maré Vive, a community media channel. And the local community orchestra played in her honour.

Marielle Franco leaves her partner, Monica, her daughter Luyara Santos, and her mother.

Her friend, Glenn Greenwald, says we must make sure that Franco’s death is not for nothing. We must use it to get thousands and tens of thousands of new Marielles, inspired by her powerful example.’

That is the hope.

Vanessa Baird is co-editor of New Internationalist magazine.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).