Read

User menu

Search form

Rebel Cities, 1: "Marielle Franco Presente!"

Rebel Cities, 1: "Marielle Franco Presente!"
Thu, 4/12/2018 - by Steve Rushton

This is Part 1 in a new series about Radical Municipalism, looking at ways that people worldwide are organizing in their cities to build power from the bottom up. Read Part 1 (Brazil) Part 2 (Rojava), Part 3 (Chiapas), Part 4 (Warsaw), Part 5 (Bologna), Part 6 (Jackson), Part 7 (Athens) and Part 8 (Warsaw & New York), Part 9 (Reykjavík), and Part 10 (Argentina).

“How many more deaths will be needed in order to end this war?”

These were a few of the final words written Mar. 13 on Twitter by Marielle Franco, a day before her assassination. The 38-year-old city councillor from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was later shot alongside her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes.

The murder of the Socialism and Liberty Party politician, sociologist, single mother and openly bisexual woman from one of Brazil's most deprived favelas, Maré, has since reverberated around the world. Evidence suggests police involvement.

Marielle was a leading light in Brazil's Feminist Spring, a new generation of Afro-Brazilian and indigenous women fighting back against Brazil's intensifying attacks against people of color, women, LGBT people and other oppressed communities.

Her shocking murder begged the question: Did the police kill Marielle? The councillor's last tweet accused the police of murdering a poor black man named Matheus Melo after he left a church in Rio's Jacarezinho favela.
 

Police Violence at its Worst

Marielle spent her adult life resisting the police war on the Afro-Brazilian community, something that had been legitimised as the “war on drugs”. In fact, Brazil's death toll in this war exceeds the lives lost in Syria and Afghanistan during official wars.

In 2016 alone, more than 4,200 people were killed by the Brazilian police. Ten percent of all homicides worldwide happen in Brazil. The war on drugs has meant a military and state police occupation of favelas, and incarceration for many people of color.

Even before her election as Rio city councillor in October 2016, Marielle was an ardent critic of police violence. Since 2008, she worked for City Hall investigating militias in which police were tied to homicide. As councillor, she coordinated a commission monitoring state troop actions in the favelas, an issue that has elevated Brazil's hard-right government. Alongside motive and their track record for murder, evidence substantiates police involvement.
 

March 14

While returning from a women's event on the evening of Mar. 14, two cars pulled up behind Marielle's vehicle. The location seemed pre-determined. It was a CCTV blind-spot. Nine bullets were fired. Four of them killed Marielle.

Bullet casings show they were police issue 9mm rounds. These trace to a batch of ammunition stolen in 2006, and were also directly connected to a massacre near São Paulo in 2015 in which three police officers and a municipal guard were convicted of murder.

The scene of Marielle's murder was soon covered in flowers and messages, including “Black Lives Matter” and “Police kill”. Thousands of mourners marched from her home favela of Maré, and many more filled Rio's streets, across Brazil and the world. A unifying call was “Marielle Presente!”

In the aftermath, global figures co-signed an open letter calling for an “independent commission comprised of prominent and respected national and international human rights and legal experts and tasked with carrying out an independent investigation of the murder.”
 

"Being a Black Woman is to Resist and Survive All the Time.” - Marielle Franco

Fighting against systemic violence led Marielle into politics. After a friend from the favelas was murdered, she started campaigning for the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). In an interview, she explained: “Incursions in the favelas were growing, weaponry and public security debate came to the fore.”

In 2006, she used the slogan: "I do not want my money in the caveirão [militarization], I want my money in education."

Marielle studied sociology, taking part in new opportunities for night courses that were open to anyone. The cohort around her became dubbed the "favela intellectuals". Her reason to stand for the 2016 elections relates to her campaign slogan: "Eu sou porque nos somos." ("I am because we are.")

In March 2016, when a key activist couldn't attend a meeting because her own house was being demolished, Marielle asserted: “We need to have women in various spaces to defend our lives.”
 

Brazil's Coup vs. Feminist Spring

Since the coup that year that brought Michael Temer to power after deposing President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil has regressed back toward its military dictatorship era, including firing live ammunition against peaceful protesters.

“Their ‘new era’ for Brazil was austerity, neoliberalism and privatization – with rocket-boosters,” writes Vanessa Baird for New Internationalist Magazine. In the months since, laws against abortions and violence against women and the LGBT community have increased. The number of rapes in Sao Paulo rose by 38 percent after the coup.

Marielle saw abortion rights as an intersectional issue. “Black women make up the majority of victims of rape,” she said. “So, when I fight for [access to] legal abortion, I’m also fighting for the slums.”

In Rio's city council, Marielle's many initiatives included night-time "day-care" to enable young mothers to work and study, as she had. She battled for rights to the city for all, including access to transport, healthcare and education services. One change she supported was for night buses to stop more often in order to reduce the risk of rape and violence. In the autumn, she planned to run for Vice-Governor of Rio State.

In her death, Marielle is being immortalized as a global human rights icon. But as she made clear, she co-led a participative movement.
 

Brazil's Feminist Spring

Marielle's journey is part of an intersectional Feminist Spring, with momentum that formed from Brazil's 2013 protests against neoliberal attacks and social exclusion. Four months after Temer's coup, Marielle and 30 other women of similar backgrounds broke into the electoral arena, winning seats in city halls across the country.

Aurea Carolina is one example: She first broke the glass ceiling in Belo Horizonte's hip-hop world before doing the same thing in Brazil's fourth largest city hall. Samia Bomfim became the youngest elected councilwoman in the city of São Paulo after working as a leading activist since 2013. In Niterói, a town near Rio, Talíria Petrone was the most voted-for candidate.

All these women are from PSOL. At the muncipalist level, they work through democratic participation, a thread running through the global rebel cities movement. For their communication, online tools are essential, including the use of live web broadcasts.

Notably, the movement links to – and has been out in front of – the global feminist movement. For example, Brazil saw its viral #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (#MyFirstHarrassment) movement start in 2015, several years before the #MeToo campaign took off in the United States.

Intersectional feminism also connects with a broader feminist surge in Brazil, organized specifically against Temer with presidential elections on the horizon later this year.

One expression of Brazil's intersectional feminism was an open letter calling for the Feminist Spring to amplify through the PSOL. The letter, co-signed by Marielle along with other previously mentioned PSOL candidates, said:

“The current moment demands an intersectional feminist policy that identifies the interactions of different forms of domination and discrimination with power structures and that captures the consequences of patriarchy, sexism, racism and discrimination against lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.”

It continued:

“The '99% Feminism' is a synthesis of a type of feminism that connects women's struggle to anti-capitalist struggle processes on a global scale, much inspired by the manifestations that emerged in 2011, from the 99% slogan against social inequality incarnated in the 1% that concentrates the global wealth.”

Read Part 1 (Brazil) Part 2 (Rojava), Part 3 (Chiapas), Part 4 (Warsaw), Part 5 (Bologna), Part 6 (Jackson), Part 7 (Athens) and Part 8 (Warsaw & New York), Part 9 (Reykjavík), and Part 10 (Argentina).

Sign Up

Article Tabs

gun rights, Florida elections, Parkland massacre, National Rifle Association, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school, youth voters, 2018 midterms

In 2014, less than a quarter of the students at University of Florida voted. Now, “I really do see a shift happening. Many students are eager to vote,” a current student said.

YouTube radicalization, online hate speech, right-wing extremists, internet conspiracy theories, YouTube propaganda, Data & Society Research Institute

Exploring so called “alternative media” on YouTube will make you end up watching white supremacists. Both Google’s greed and the carelessness of mainstream conservatives are to blame.

act out 180

The purge is here. Facebook, Twitter and the silencing of anything that goes against the state. Next up, women's health and rights are under attack.

Gender Recognition Act, transgender, transmen, transmen, self-ID

The British government this week is weighing controversial changes to the existing Gender Recognition Act, asking the public whether they believe trans people should be allowed to “self-ID.”

For Freedoms, 50 State Initiative, billboard art, political art, 2018 elections, Donald Trump

The artists and founders involved with 50 State Initiative, a crowdfunded project to erect politically charged billboards, talk about their motivations.

gun rights, Florida elections, Parkland massacre, National Rifle Association, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school, youth voters, 2018 midterms

In 2014, less than a quarter of the students at University of Florida voted. Now, “I really do see a shift happening. Many students are eager to vote,” a current student said.

"This study in PNAS is a real wake-up call—a clarion call—that the phenomenon could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems," David Wagner, an invertebrate conservation expert at the University of Connecticut. (Photo: Alias 0591/Flickr/cc)

The human-caused climate crisis has sparked a global "bugpocalypse" that will only continue to accelerate in the absence of systemic action to curb planetary warming.

YouTube radicalization, online hate speech, right-wing extremists, internet conspiracy theories, YouTube propaganda, Data & Society Research Institute

Exploring so called “alternative media” on YouTube will make you end up watching white supremacists. Both Google’s greed and the carelessness of mainstream conservatives are to blame.

youth climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, Donald Trump, carbon emissions, climate catastrophe, climate denial, Our Children's Trust

A federal judge has rejected the Trump administration's last-ditch efforts to derail a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs. The trial start date is Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon.

universal home health care, healthcare legislation, Maine People’s Alliance

The Maine People’s Alliance, a grassroots organization, collected 67,000 signatures to get a measure on the November ballot that would provide home health care to all Maine residents.

voter restrictions, voter ID, voter purges, Crosscheck

On Monday, the Palast Investigative Fund announced it was releasing the names of 90,000 Nevada residents purged from the voter rolls based on flawed evidence that indicates they have moved.

Posted 5 days 23 hours ago
For Freedoms, 50 State Initiative, billboard art, political art, 2018 elections, Donald Trump

The artists and founders involved with 50 State Initiative, a crowdfunded project to erect politically charged billboards, talk about their motivations.

Posted 5 days 23 hours ago
act out 180

The purge is here. Facebook, Twitter and the silencing of anything that goes against the state. Next up, women's health and rights are under attack.

Posted 4 days 23 hours ago
Gender Recognition Act, transgender, transmen, transmen, self-ID

The British government this week is weighing controversial changes to the existing Gender Recognition Act, asking the public whether they believe trans people should be allowed to “self-ID.”

Posted 5 days 22 hours ago
gun rights, Florida elections, Parkland massacre, National Rifle Association, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school, youth voters, 2018 midterms

In 2014, less than a quarter of the students at University of Florida voted. Now, “I really do see a shift happening. Many students are eager to vote,” a current student said.

Posted 3 days 54 min ago
Gender Recognition Act, transgender, transmen, transmen, self-ID

The British government this week is weighing controversial changes to the existing Gender Recognition Act, asking the public whether they believe trans people should be allowed to “self-ID.”

People gathered in Toronto to watch the “bud drop” at the stroke of midnight, in celebration of the legalization on Wednesday of recreational cannabis use in Canada.CreditIan Willms/Getty Images

Canada on Wednesday became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana, beginning a national experiment that will alter the country’s social, cultural and economic fabric, and present the nation with its biggest public policy challenge in decades.

"This study in PNAS is a real wake-up call—a clarion call—that the phenomenon could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems," David Wagner, an invertebrate conservation expert at the University of Connecticut. (Photo: Alias 0591/Flickr/cc)

The human-caused climate crisis has sparked a global "bugpocalypse" that will only continue to accelerate in the absence of systemic action to curb planetary warming.

youth climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, Donald Trump, carbon emissions, climate catastrophe, climate denial, Our Children's Trust

A federal judge has rejected the Trump administration's last-ditch efforts to derail a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs. The trial start date is Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon.

voter restrictions, voter ID, voter purges, Crosscheck

On Monday, the Palast Investigative Fund announced it was releasing the names of 90,000 Nevada residents purged from the voter rolls based on flawed evidence that indicates they have moved.