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Trans advocates rally to press police to solve murders of trans women of color
by Matt Simonette
2018-10-25

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Several dozen community members, among them many transgender activists and their allies, gathered at Chicago Police Department Headquarters (CDP), 3510 S. Michigan Ave., the evening of Oct. 25 to demand that the recent murders of two local transgender women be more thoroughly investigated, and that CPD work harder overall to ensure the safety of transgender Chicagoans.

Reyna Ortiz, board vice-chair of Equality Illinois, opened the presentation, insisting that CPD was being put on notice about the lack of progress in the investigations of the murders of Dejanay Stanton, who was killed Aug. 30, and Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, who was killed Oct. 3.

"We are not going to sweep this under the rug," said Ortiz.

Stanton's mother, Valerie Griffin, held a placard with her daughter's photo and said that "being who she was was no reason for what happened to her."

Griffin further led the crowd in a chant: "Justice for Dejanay and Ciara."

Brace Space Alliance Executive Director LaSaia Wade added, "We've got to find ways to survive. … My sisters have been slain left and right."

Wade noted that, for decades, murders of transgender women of color have never been solved. Beyond the general demands echoed by nearly all the speakers—active investigations of the recent murders and assurances of safety overall—Wade said that a trans woman of color should be a member of the city's Police Accountability Board.

"It is stated that Chicago is a 'sanctuary city'—prove it to me," she said.

Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson noted that, after two recent murders in Rogers Park—wherein one of the victims was a gay man—CPD announced that they had 40 detectives on the case. He added that there was "no justice for the entire LGBT community" until justice was achieved for members of the transgender community.

Entertainer/activist Lia Stokes added that, being a transgender woman who has reached the age of 51, she is somewhat of an anomaly since the average life span of a transgender woman in America is about age 30. She added, "The time has come for us to ignite and initiate change at every turn."

Activist Gearah Goldstein further noted, "I understand that I owe my life to transgender women of color who stood up under pressure that I can barely imagine."

Other speakers included Broadway Youth Center Manager Channyn Lynne Parker and community advocates Beverly Ross and Elise Mallory. Performer Karma Munez led the crowd in a performance of "We Shall Overcome," wherein transgender individuals gathered and sang, surrounded by their cisgender allies.

Both 5th District state representative candidate Lamont Robinson and mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot attended the event. Lightfoot told Windy City Times,, "It's incredibly important that we bear witness to the injustices happening all over our city, and that there is a focus on these two homicides in particular that remain unsolved. This is obviously a huge issue across the city but people in this community are still on the front-lines, frankly for abuse and discrimination, and it's critically important that we make sure that we are uplifting these moments and these lives that do matter."

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