Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

NCAVP warns of national increase in anti-transgender violence

One day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a new NCAVP press release warns about a nationwide increase in severe violence perpetrated against transgender persons.

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New York – As the Transgender Day of Remembrance approaches, a day when victims of anti-transgender bias are mourned around the globe, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has documented increases in severe violence directed at transgender communities across the country, especially against transgender women of color.

  • Latiesha Green, 22, was shot on November 14 in Syracuse, New York.
  • Duanna Johnson, 43, was shot in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 8.
  • Aimee Wilcoxson, 34, was found dead in her apartment on November 3 in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver.

Some of these brutal acts of violence occurred in the same communities that continue to mourn the murders of two transgender people of color earlier this year: Ebony Whitaker, 20, murdered in June also in Tennessee and Angie Zapata, 18, murdered in July also in Colorado.

Organizations such as International Transgender Day of Remembrance and Remembering Our Dead that have helped to initiate Transgender Day of Remembrance (held this year on November 20) also track anti-trans murders. They documented 29 anti-trans murders in 2008, a 65% increase over 2007.

NCAVP wishes to express our sadness and outrage about this ongoing, horrific violence. We stand in solidarity with transgender communities in Tennessee, Syracuse, and Colorado, the victims and survivors, and their loved ones.

Mixed Criminal / Legal System Responses

Memphis
Ms. Johnson’s murder comes on the heels of Memphis Police Department’s brutal beating of Ms. Johnson in February 2008. The following Police security camera footage of the beating has been widely circulated since June (warning: clip contains disturbing material):

[YouTube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N1Bvlbh_ws”%5D

The Memphis Police Department had been attempting to settle a law suit that Ms. Johnson had filed for the beating she endured while in custody. Former officers Bridges McRae and James Swain were fired only after the video was released, but it is not yet clear whether or not any criminal charges will be filed.

Local community members have speculated that anti-trans bias is likely a factor, not only in the beating itself but in the lack of criminal charges being filed. “This is not the first time the Shelby County District Attorney’s office has shown indifference to brutality against transgender people,” observed Dr. Marisa Richmond, the President of Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. “When Tiffany Berry was murdered in 2006, her alleged perpetrator, D’Andre Blake, was released on only $20,000 bond.” Dr. Richmond noted that people charged with murder in Tennessee typically get a $100,000 bond.

The FBI is now assisting in the investigation of Ms. Johnson’s murder. NCAVP calls upon the FBI to bring its full resources to in the investigation of not only Ms. Johnson’s murder but also Ms. Ebony Whitaker’s. NCAVP also demands that District Attorney Gibbons bring appropriate charges against former officers McRae and Swain.

Aurora
In Colorado, the Aurora Sentinel reported that local police have speculated that Ms. Wilcoxson’s death was a suicide. But friends of hers insist that explanation is very unlikely given her life circumstances and also given the condition the body was in when it was discovered. NCAVP is hopeful that local police will conduct a thorough investigation that takes into account these statements from people who knew her.

Syracuse
In Syracuse, Sage Upstate and other local community members report that Syracuse City Police Department Chief Gary Miguel has responded to this crime with sensitivity. The family of Latiesha ‘Tiesh’ Green and LGBT advocates in the Syracuse community are hopeful that the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office will be able to include hate crime charges in the prosecution of this case.

NCAVP commends district attorneys and police who identify and appropriately categorize hate-motivated violence. We are hopeful that district attorneys and law enforcement in other jurisdictions will follow suit and NCAVP will continue to monitor the violence against transgender communities, as well as the police response.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people experience violence and harassment everyday and most of it never makes headlines. NCAVP encourages LGBT people experiencing any form of hate violence, harassment, vandalism, or bullying to contact NCAVP or one of our member programs by calling 212.714.1184 or emailing us at info@ncavp.org.

November 20, 2008 - Posted by | African Americans, Beatings and battery, Colorado, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, New York, police brutality, Tennessee, transgender persons, Uncategorized

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