Marielle Franco Early Life.
Marielle Franco, born Marielle Francisco da Silva on July 27, 1979, was a human rights activist dedicated to denouncing and reporting police violence against poor communities. A brilliant woman, she crossed the invisible borders of a segregated educational system and identified herself as part of the “favela intellectuals crew”. She studied in a popular preparatory course and succeeded in passing a competitive exam to enter the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, an elite institution. After graduating in sociology, Franco also received a master’s degree in public administration from one of Brazil’s best public universities, the Universidade Federal Fluminense.
Marielle Franco was a Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) city councilmember, and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberty. She was also a member of the LGBT community and a human rights activist, especially against police brutality in the favelas, or slums of the city. On March 14, 2018, she was shot four times in the head and killed by two unknown attackers. Many believe what happened was an assassination. Who Killed Marielle Franco?
Marielle Franco Biography and Profile
She was born Marielle Francisco da Silva on July 27, 1979 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was raised by her parents Marielle and Antonio in a complex of sixteen slums called Maré, in Rio. Franco was a fierce advocate for the marginalized–including Afro-Brazilians, the poor, the LGBTQ community and women–and a critic of President Michel Temer’s federal intervention in the city. At age 19, she gave birth to her daughter, Luyara Santos. She then earned a scholarship to the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio in 2002 where she received a bachelors’ degree in social sciences four years later. Before her death, she lived with her daughter and her girlfriend, Monica Tereza Benício, whom she dated for thirteen years and had planned to marry in 2019.
Long before being elected to Rio’s city council in 2016, Marielle was widely known as a tireless and fearless advocate for the rights of Afro-Brazilians, LGBT persons, women and low income communities. A gay Black woman born and raised in one of Rio’s poorest neighborhoods, she campaigned relentlessly against spiraling police violence in the city’s favelas.
Marielle’s activism earned her many powerful enemies. She vehemently challenged the impunity surrounding extrajudicial killings of Black youth by security forces and, two days before her killing, had denounced the police’s role in the killing of a young Black man named Matheus Melo. She was a leading critic of the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro and was the head of a city commission tasked with monitoring the intervention.
Marielle Franco Education
Marielle Franco earned a masters’ degree in public administration from Fluminense Federal University in 2012. Franco’s master’s thesis was titled “UPP: The Decline of the Favela in Three Letters,” translated to English, and examined the role of “Pacifying Police Units” which are a law enforcement tool in Brazil attempting to retake control of the city’s favelas from gangs and drugs.
Marielle Franco Assassination
Shortly before her death, Marielle Franco asked “How many others will have to die before this war will end.” We call for justice for Marielle Franco and the daughter and the partner she leaves behind, and for an end to the killings and criminalization of activists, government opponents and low income people in Brazil.
On 14 March 2018, one of Brazil’s most courageous social leaders was brutally assassinated on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Marielle Franco, a city councilwoman and human rights defender, was shot four times in the head by unknown assailants in a passing vehicle shortly after leaving a gathering of young Black activists. Her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also killed.
Tens of thousands of people protested Franco’s death in cities across the country, as well as in New York City, Paris, Berlin and elsewhere. Her name was mentioned in more than 3 million tweets in 54 countries over the two days following her death, often with the hashtags #MariellePresente (Marielle Is Here) and #SayHerName, the latter borrowed from Black Lives Matter activists. Some demonstrators have also used her death as a rallying cry to call for an end to systemic racism in Brazil.
How Did Marielle Franco Die?
On the evening of March 14, 2018, Marielle Franco, city councillor of Rio de Janeiro, was driving back home after a public gathering called “Young Black Women Are Moving the Structures”. Organised by Franco’s cabinet, the meeting was held at the Black Women House [Casa das Pretas] on Invalids Street [rua dos Inválidos] in a central neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.
After the meeting, around 9:30 pm, Marielle Franco’s car was attacked by criminals travelling in another vehicle. The killers fired 13 shots from an HK MP5 machine gun. Four shots hit Franco directly in her head, showing not only did they know her exact position inside a smoked glass car, but also that they were trained assassins.
Marielle died immediately, as did Anderson Gomes, the driver, who happened to be in the firing line. Fernanda Chaves, Marielle’s press assistant and friend, was the only survivor. Two days after the attack, she had to flee Brazil to protect herself and her family.
It was soon discovered that all the bullets used in the crime were registered as belonging to the Police Office in Brasilia, the national capital, and it became clear that this was a political crime. Suspicions grew of links between the police forces and the criminals.
Two men accused of being the shooters were imprisoned: Ronnie Lessa and Elcio Queiroz. They are professional killers and have a 30 year record of delivered crimes. Both were policemen. The shooter Ronnie Lessa was part of a criminal organisation called the Crime Office [Escritório do Crime], which is actively and directly connected with Flavio Bolsonaro. Flavio had honoured their criminal boss in the Rio de Janeiro Assembly and had employed his daughter and wife in his cabinet.
Why Was Marielle Franco Killed?
Some activists believe Franco was killed for speaking out against abuses of military and police power in Brazil, and human-rights observers have criticized what they call a culture of impunity in Brazilian law enforcement. The protests, led largely by young Brazilians, have highlighted their demands for legitimate leadership and their broader dissatisfaction with the nation’s political system. As the police continue their investigation into the apparent hit, many of Franco’s followers are looking to the October elections as an opportunity to continue her struggle.
What Did Marielle Franco Fight For?
Marielle’s effective activism, courage and clarity had made her a rising star in Brazil’s increasingly divided political world. As an Afro-Brazilian, gay, single mother from one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods, she used her role as a city councillor to empower these very constituencies. Her success in doing so made her a hero to some and a threat to others.
Ms Franco often denounced police violence and extrajudicial executions carried out by the security forces. She was particularly critical of President Michel Temer’s recent decision to deploy the army in Rio state to boost security.
The deployment, in response to a surge in crime around carnival, caused grave concerns among rights groups who fear residents could face harassment or worse. Ms Franco had been chosen to oversee a commission monitoring the deployment of the military.
“How many more will have to die before this war ends?” she asked on Twitter a day before she was killed, referring to the fatal shooting of a young man after he left church in a favela.
“She was a minority within Brazil’s political institutions, but represented the majority of Brazilian people, many of whom are female, black and live in favelas,” says fellow black politician Taliria Petrone.
“We need people like Marielle to have space in politics and to implement public policies that represent this diversity,” Ms Petrone, who was elected councillor in the city of Niteroi in 2016, says.
Marielle Franco’s sister Anielle Silva, says people should not forget her murder was “political”. “She was a leader who fought for minorities and against violence in Rio. She was elected. All I want is for her legacy to be respected,” Ms Silva says.
In 2006 the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) launched Marcelo Freixo as a candidate for state deputy under the banner of promoting human rights. Marielle joined Marcelo Freixo’s campaign in Maré and was afterwards asked to form a part of his cabinet and participate in the Human Rights Commission, which he presided over. Marielle’s work was essential for the Human Rights Commission. While at the Commission, she also worked with the families of the military police that died while serving in order to ensure that their deaths were properly investigated and their families protected in accordance with the law. It is during this period that Marielle positioned herself as a human rights activist and her candidacy began to take shape.
Marielle worked with Freixo between 2006 and 2016, when he ran as a candidate for mayor and she ran as a candidate for a councillor for the first time. Her campaign constituted a fundamental frame of reference for the political history of the city.
As a woman, a black person, a favela resident and a human rights activist, she gained the support of various different groups – favela inhabitants, intellectuals, various black movements, women, university students – who saw in Marielle a candidate that was drastically different from the others and as such presented an opportunity for a new kind of politics and with it, a new kind of world.
Under the motto “I am because we are”, Marielle’s campaign articulated important ideas of unity, representation and the possibility of having a political actor unlike Brazil’s traditional political players. Out of the 51 councillors elected in 2016, only six were women and just one, apart from Marielle, was black.
The change that we wanted to see in our institutions was embodied by her. Marielle was different from them, but she was like one of us: she came from struggles, social movements, black university collectives, Carnaval groups, funk artist culture. She represented a different way of living, circulating the city, being engaged in politics, of fighting. The night that Marielle was elected was one of the happiest nights of our lives.
Marielle Franco Partner
Marielle Franco’s partner Monica Benicio. An architect by trade and a human rights defender, Benicio believes it was fundamental for the international community to understand that her partner’s struggle was for human rights and in opposition to racism, gender discrimination and phobia towards LGBT people.
“We have spoken out, more and more. Even looking at our reaction to Marielle’s execution – although we, especially the black women, could all have remained stuck and taken a step back from the struggle – we had the completely opposite reaction to that attempt to silence what Marielle represented,” Benicio says.
Marielle Franco Daughter
At age 19, Marielle Franco gave birth to her daughter, Luyara Santos.
Marielle Franco Quotes
Speaking at a black women’s empowerment event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, councilwoman Marielle Franco evoked Audre Lorde, the black American lesbian writer, to a packed room.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her chains are very different from my own,” Marielle Franco said to the mixed crowd of activists fighting to build a better life in the South American country.
Marielle Franco Biography and Profile