Brazilian politician Marielle Franco killed in drive-by shooting

By Susan McFarland  |  March 15, 2018 at 1:55 PM
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March 15 (UPI) -- A Brazilian city councilor for the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party was shot dead Wednesday in an ambush that's caused outrage and protests.

Councilor Marielle Franco had been speaking at an event with activists in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday evening. As she was leaving, a car pulled up and fired nine shots into her vehicle, killing Franco and her driver and wounding her press officer.

Franco, 38, was an outspoken critic of police violence and the deployment of the army into poor neighborhoods. As a young, black, lesbian female activist who grew up in the slums of Rio, she championed the underrepresented and was loved by other activists.

After news of her death, nationwide protests were scheduled with more than 70,000 people and organizations confirming planned demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro.

Franco was elected with the leftist Socialist and Freedom Party in 2016 as the fifth-most voted councilor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second-largest city with a population of more than six million.

The Socialism and Freedom Party condemned the murders, saying the organization is angry and in pain.

"Marielle's role as councilor and human rights activist is proud of all the militancy of PSOL and will be honored in the continuity of her struggle. We cannot rule out the hypothesis of political crime, that is, an execution," the party in a statement. "We demand immediate and rigorous investigation of this heinous crime. We will not shut up!"

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