By Susana Jurado
PHILADELPHIA – Several city leaders and activists here in Philadelphia have come together to highlight the importance of safety and justice for all people, especially among communities like LGBTQ, where their susceptibility to violence is prominent.
District Attorney Larry Krasner was among those who denounced LGBTQ injustice.
The recent assault and murders of Black trans women has sparked outrage among city leaders and activists, prompting Krasner to address these issues publicly.
He emphasized the need for state institutions to step up and use the power and responsibility they have been given to create more inclusive environments for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians immediately by taking legislative and policy actions.
Through these actions, discrimination would become unlawful, specifically among landlords and employers, usually targeting one for their gender or sexual orientation.
“We cannot have safety and justice without equality, and recognizing the rights and humanity of our most marginalized neighbors is necessary to achieve the safe and inclusive communities everyone deserves,” Krasner said.
He detailed the efforts of the District Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia to incessantly promote ongoing diversity and inclusion, stating, “… we are working to ensure equal and equitable access to justice for people from communities that have historically been mistreated, abused, and ignored by the criminal legal system.”
DA Krasner continued, his bold statements hinting at the core values of the Black Lives Matter movement, as he expressed the significance of society accepting the idea that Black trans lives truly do matter and by believing that “…all of our lives will matter, and we will all be safer.”
“The LGBTQ community has long experienced disproportionate rates of violence, and unfortunately, even progressive cities like Philadelphia are not exempt from this crisis,” said Celena Morrison, Executive Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs.
According to Morrison, Black Trans women have specifically been targeted among the LGBTQ community, with multiple tragic attacks in recent months. Her goals centered on keeping LGBTQ individuals safe and protected against the injustices and inequalities that plague this country.
She encourages the public to stand up for calls of justice and freedom and says, “…speak up when these acts strike our communities and demand an end to the violence and discrimination.”
As of right now, there is still no clear indication of a law that prohibits housing or employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation in Pennsylvania.
A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law reports that people in the LGBTQ community are often prone to poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, and substance use disorders as uninhibited discrimination and hostility become increasingly dangerous, thereby contributing to the overall factors of creating an excessively vulnerable community to violence.
Black trans women are the majority of transgender victims of homicide, based on research found by the Human Rights Campaign.
In the U.S. alone, 29 transgender people have been murdered just this year, and in 2019, at least 27 transgender people were also killed violently in this country.
On August 24, the Black trans victim Mia Green was shot to death in her home by Abdulla I. El Amin, a man prosecuted by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office this week on murder related charges.
Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, another transgender victim of this tragedy, was murdered in June, and to this day, the defendant, Akhenaton Jones, a dangerous fugitive, is still on the loose.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw described the matter of the murdered trans victims as despicable and said, “While an arrest was quickly made, we must continue to work hard to ensure that the man responsible is held accountable to bring a measure of justice to Mia and her family. We extend our deepest condolences to all of those affected by this heinous act.”
Last week, Tymesha Wearing was arrested based on findings that she played a role in the beating of Green and was charged with aggravated assault and conspiracy by the District Attorney’s Office.
Hate crime protections for LGBTQ communities in Pennsylvania are relatively low. So Wearing’s added charge of Ethnic Intimidation did not hold much weight against her as it can only be applied as a summary offense in Philadelphia.
“While we cannot legislate hate out of people’s hearts, we can use the law to prove that our society finds violence against the Black trans community unacceptable,” Sen. Larry Farnese, a District 1 Senator, said.
He added, “We need to pass SB 212, SB 614, and SB 947 to show we stand with the LGBTQ community. These are the first steps to helping our trans neighbors out of the fear, intimidation, and hell they are currently living in.”
Tatyana Woodard, Community Health Engagement Coordinator at the Mazzoni Center, emphasized the importance of including Black trans women and men into conversations of change in this country as they are directly affected by the taken steps toward reforming justice and equality.
She expressed her disdain towards the mistreatment of Black trans women, noting, “The rate of violence against trans women is at a disgraceful all-time high, and not enough is being done to ensure the safety of trans women when alive or upon their passing. We demand these horrific acts end.”
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