Protests are being held across Brazil after councillor and activist Marielle Franco and her driver were shot dead in a suspected assassination.
Franco, 38, was an openly serving lesbian politician who fought for minorities across Rio de Janeiro, where she grew in one of the poorest favelas.
In 2015 she defied the odds which were set against her as a black, gay woman and was elected as a council member.
She often spoke about the need to crack down on discrimination against minority groups as well as police violence who she said exercised excessive force.
Police confirmed that two men in a car fired nin shots at Franco and her driver. Anderson Pedro Gomes, 39, on Wednesday. A press officer was also travelling with Franco and Gomes but survived the attack.
Officials have confirmed that it appears Franco was specifically targeted and not shot in a random attack.
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) March 16, 2018
Head of public security Richard Nunes has confirmed that a full investigation is being carried out over the deaths.
An estimated 50,000 people gathered outside of Rio de Janeiro’s council chamber to protest the growing violence in Brazil.
Crowds chanted “not one step backwards” as Franco’s coffin was carried inside.
Human Rights groups across the world have called for a full independent investigation to be carried out.
Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch, said that she was an “outspoken and courageous advocate for victims of police abuse and a tireless defender of the rights of women and Afro-Brazilians.
“Brazilian authorities need to respond decisively by identifying those responsible for the killing of Marielle and Anderson, and bringing them to justice,” Canineu added.
Family and friends have shared their memories of the activist. In a statement Brazil’s former president Dilma Rouseff called Franco as a “tireless social warrior”.
“Sad days for a country where a human rights defender is brutally murdered,” she said.
Jefferson Barbosa, 21, who worked with Franco said she “was a symbol of the politics we believe in” but he was “scared” that this had happened.
“People are shocked with what happened. They did this to Mari, one of the most popular lawmakers in Rio. What will stop them doing this to others?” Barbosa added.
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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