By: Patrick DuBois*/Trans Headlines
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Amid riots and numerous protests in Minneapolis and nationwide, news outlets are reporting yet the murder of a trans black man at the hands of the Tallahassee Police Department, after an alleged stabbing incident in which the victim was involved in, according to various reports. McDade was killed on Wednesday, May 27 outside Holton Street Apartments
Tony McDade, 38, left a Live FB video before the alleged stabbing and killing a man at the Leon Arms Apartment complex believed to be part of a group that allegedly and “brutally” attacked McDade a day before. In the Live video, McDade explained he was going after the same group of men who had attacked him as a form of revenge.
“You killed me,” McDade said in the live video. “I’m gonna kill you.”
Essence online, via the Tallahassee Democrat, reported that while some other renters claim that McDade was unarmed when he was shot, while Police Chief Lawrence Revell claimed that McDade had pointed his gun at a police officer.
“The suspect was in possession of a handgun, and the bloody knife was found at the scene of the stabbing,” Revell told Essence. Revell himself referred to McDade as a woman, even when McDade’s trans masculine identity was evident to other witnesses.
A witness, Clifford Butler, said that he never heard the officer, who shot McDade, give any warning before shooting.
“I see [the person] right behind the tree, but I see for him [the officer] just jump out of the car, swing the door open, and just start shooting. I never heard the ‘Get down, freeze, I’m an officer’—nothing. I just heard gunshots.”
Yahoo online reported that police and news reports initially from local news station WTXL, referred to McDade as a woman. But, others who knew him more personally corrected reports to say McDade was a trans man.
Kim Simmons, a resident of the Leon Arms Apartments, told them.us that there was no warning from the police at all.
“[The police officer] jumped right out [of] the car and started shooting,” said Simmons to the online reporting source.
Another resident said that the police said, “Stop moving N****! And then they shot him after he stopped moving.”
The officer that killed McDade hasn’t been identified thus far, according to papermag.com, but he has been placed on paid administrative leave in the wake of McDade’s death.
The Human Rights Campaign has reported that “2020 has already seen at least 12 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported—or misreported.”
From the 12 transgender people murdered, five were killed in Puerto Rico and eight were trans people of color.
The 12 transgender people are:
- Dustin Parker, 25, was fatally shot in McAlester, Oklahoma, early on New Year’s Day. His employers released a statement shortly after his death, remembering Parker as “a steadfast friend, an amazing husband, and father and generous to a fault. He loved fiercely, worked tirelessly, and took on life with so much hope and enthusiasm that his presence brightened all of our lives.”
- Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, was fatally shot in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on February 24. According to Metro Puerto Rico, members of her community knew her as “humble” and “noble.”
- Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, was killed in Moca, Puerto Rico, on March 5. Arocho, a transgender man, shared his love for basketball and the NBA — donning Miami Heat apparel on social media. The biography line on his Facebook reads simply, “Humility Prevails.”
- Monika Diamond, 34, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 18. Diamond was active in the Charlotte LGBTQ and nightlife community and was the co-owner of an event promotion company. She also was the co-CEO of the International Mother of the Year Pageantry System — a pageant that honors LGBTQ mothers.
- Lexi, 33, a transgender woman, was killed in Harlem, New York on March 28. According to reports, Lexi was fatally stabbed in Harlem River Park. “I really looked up to her because of her tolerance and respect,” said Lavonia Brooks, a friend of Lexi. “Lexi had a beautiful heart, she was very gifted.” Brooks also noted that Lexi loved poetry, makeup, and fashion.
- Johanna Metzger, a transgender woman, was killed in Baltimore, Maryland on April 11. According to reports, she was visiting a Baltimore recovery center from Pennsylvania at the time. Johanna was known for her love of music and taught herself to play multiple instruments.
- Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 21. Ramos was killed alongside Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21. According to reports, Ramos was visiting the island on vacation and was set to return to her home in Queens, New York, at the end of the month. Loved ones are mourning her death, calling her “full of life,” a “happy person,” and a “sincere friend.” On May 1, two men were charged under federal hate crimes law for Ramos’s death.
- Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 21. Sánchez was killed alongside Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos. According to reports, Sánchez had recently moved to the island and was living in the Tejas neighborhood in Las Piedras. On May 1, two Puerto Rican men were charged under federal hate crimes law for Sánchez’s death.
- Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a transgender woman, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 13. “Penélope did not deserve to die. Transgender people do not deserve to die. Every single advocate, ally, elected official, and community member must stand up in light of this horrific news and say ‘No more.’ What we are doing is not enough,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
- Nina Pop, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3. She was deeply loved by her family, friends, and community, according to her Facebook page.
- Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, a transgender woman, was killed in San Antonio, Texas, on May 6. O’Regan was proud of her trans identity and on Twitter, she often spoke out against injustice, including the LGBTQ inequality, the prison industrial complex, and the need to decriminalize sex work. Damion Terrell Campbell, 42, has been charged with O’Regan’s murder.
- Tony McDade, a Black transgender man, was killed in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 27. His friends and family shared how he was an energetic, giving person with a big heart.
A release by the AMA earlier this year, as reported by Trans Headlines, explains that the organization will “adopt a plan to help bring national attention to the epidemic of violence against the transgender community, especially the amplified physical dangers faced by transgender people of color.”
According to available tracking, fatal anti-transgender violence in the U.S. is on the rise and most victims were black transgender women,” said AMA Board Member S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D. “The number of victims could be even higher due to underreporting and better data collection by law enforcement is needed to create strategies that will prevent anti-transgender violence.”
David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, NBJC, released the following statement about McDade’s shooting.
“… It pains me to have learned about Tony McDade, who we understand was killed by a member of the Tallahassee Police Department yesterday morning. Tony, a Black trans man, is our brother,” Johns’ statement read. “Prior to being shot and fatally wounded by a police officer, Tony posted a video to his Facebook page recounting a horrific beating he received from five men because he is a Black trans man. This tragic incident should be a reminder that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people happen too frequently—often without the national public outcry that our cis and/or heteronormative brothers and sisters receive. In 2018 alone, over 1,500 hate crimes based on bias against someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity were reported. And the violence is escalating. There was more than an 18 percent increase in these hate crimes from 2016 to 2018, and the FBI reports an 11 percent increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period.”
Johns spoke of the rise of hate crimes happening after the 2016 election of Donald Trump.
“… Trump has escalated the violence with racist rhetoric and destructive policies designed to divide and keep some of us locked out of access to opportunity,” the statement read. “The clearest consequences of these deleterious actions are evident in these examples of vitriol, violence, and death.
“We don’t know a lot of the details around Tony’s death, or how police became involved. We do know that Tony should not have been killed. We must work together to raise awareness about the unique challenges that Black LGBTQ/SGL people face. It is important to highlight the too often ignored violence that members of our community face in addition to the discrimination we may experience because we are Black.”
There is an ongoing investigation into the officer’s actions and a community demanding justice for McDade creating a memorial next to a palm tree in the area where McDade was shot to mourn his death while carrying signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for Tony.”
Tallahassee’s Mayor John Dailey tweeted, “Today’s tragic loss of lives affects our entire community. This comes on the heels of disturbing events around our nation that we will not ignore. My heart goes out to the friends and families of those who lost their lives today and to the entire community that has been traumatized by today’s events,” adding in another (see below) their TPD was committed to a thorough investigation.
Today’s tragic loss of lives affects our entire community. This comes on the heels of disturbing events around our nation that we will not ignore.
— Mayor John Dailey (@MayorOfTLH) May 27, 2020
And as the nation mourns deaths that aren’t just pandemic related, Johns closed his statement by ensuring that McDade’s name wasn’t left out of the hate violence that members of the TPoC (Transgender People of Color) community also go through.
“As we honor each of our siblings, including Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd we must also say Tony’s name,” read Johns’ (NBJC) last sentence from his statement.
At the time of this report, close to 64,000 people had signed a Change.org online petition calling for justice for Tony McDade.
Early in March, another trans man of color, Yampi Méndez Arocho was killed in Puerto Rico, after the island has seen one of the worst years for transgender people living in the commonwealth.
[This story is still developing].