In Wake of Councilwoman's Murder, Black Brazilians Seek Political Voice

When black Brazilian filmmaker Anderson Quack and rapper Nega Gizza launched their bids to run for office in October’s elections, the absence of a murdered colleague cast a long shadow over the event in an impoverished district of Rio de Janeiro.

Rising political star Marielle Franco, a black Rio councilwoman, had been instrumental in bringing the two candidates under the banner of her Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), but did not live to see them start their campaigns.

She was shot dead in March, a murder which investigators have linked to her many years of denouncing militia activity in Rio’s shanty towns, known as favelas. One suspect is a fellow councilman accused of links to militias, two sources with knowledge of the investigation said on Wednesday.

Thousands took to the streets to protest her death, which has become a rallying cry for favela residents and black Brazilians seeking a greater voice in their country’s politics.

“Let’s have a round of applause for our companion Marielle, who was one of our greatest supporters in this process,” Quack, who is running for Congress, told a cheering crowd of nearly 200 people assembled late Tuesday in a courtyard in the hardscrabble neighborhood Madureira, on the outskirts of Rio. “Marielle is present!”

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