Monday, August 17, 2015

North Carolina Trans woman was found in a Crude Unmarked Grave

Edited by Sabrina Samone, TMP

The body of Elisha Walker, a 20-year-old transgender woman who had been missing for almost a year, was found in a “crude grave” in Johnston County, North Carolina. According to advocates and local media, the discovery was made more than 100 miles from Walker’s home in Salisbury, North Carolina
A Latin Kings gang member, Angel Dejesus Arias, 23, was arrested and charged with killing Walker and stealing her car, reports said on Thursday. He was being held without bond.
Amid reports from Detroit, Texas and Phoenix of the deaths of three more black, transgender women, some observers have placed the number of transgender women killed this year at 16.
In a statement, transgender Human Rights Campaign staff member Laya Monarez said: “Even as we are seeing an increase in transgender visibility through a range of inspiring national media stories, including Caitlyn Jenner’s, the levels of violence and harassment transgender people face – particularly transgender women and transgender women of color – constitute anational crisis.”
This week, Texas police announced an investigation into the death of 22-year-old Shade Schuler, whose body was found badly decomposed in a field in Dallas. It took almost three weeks to identify her remains.
Activists in Michigan were also asking for help from Detroit law enforcement, after 20-year-old Amber Monroe was shot and killed in a city park. She was the fifth transgender woman to be killed in Palmer Park since 2014.
In Phoenix on Tuesday night a 35-year-old transgender woman, Kandis Capri, was shot dead.
Walker was reported missing in November 2014, after her family had not heard from her since 24 October, the Salisbury Post reported. Police gave local media information about Walker’s disappearance in an effort to generate leads, but few were forthcoming until Walker’s burnt-out 2000 Pontiac Sunfire was discovered in an open field in Sampson County, police said in a release.
Arias had lived in a house in Salisbury that Walker was known to frequent, before moving to Johnston County, more than 100 miles away, where he was arrested on unrelated drug charges. Rowan County police obtained a search warrant for a Johnston County house, they said. They discovered Walker’s body in a “small depression” behind it.
Arias will not face hate crimes charges over Walker’s death. North Carolina does not have a hate crimes statute.
Like other police departments around the country, the Rowan County sheriff’s office has repeatedly referred to Walker with the incorrect pronoun “him”, despite it being widely acknowledged that Walker identified as a transgender woman. The department did not return a request for comment. 
Condolences for those close to Walker poured on to her Facebook page late this week, after news of Arias’ arrest broke in the local community. Those posting to the page described Walker as joyful.
“My heart hurts because you were such a kind spirit that never bothered anyone,” said one poster, named as Fab Oz, on the page.
“You always kept a smile on your face regardless of how you felt. I pray your soul rest in peace and justice is served.”
Many advocates are now pressuring law makers to address the growing tide of violence against transgender women, and especially the alarming murders of trans women of color.
In its report into hate violence in 2014, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs warned of an ongoing “crisis of deadly violence against transgender women of color”. It was the fourth year in a row that the monitoring group had highlighted disproportionate levels of severe violence.
Leading blogger and activist Monica Roberts of Transgriot launched a petition recently to call on the Obama administration to investigate the murders of transgender women of colorRoberts notes that most of the victims have been transgender women of color, and many have been under 30. Her “We The People” petition must garner 100,000 signatures by Sept. 10 to get a formal response from the White House.
From the Petition:

Formally Investigate the Transphobic Violence Leading to the Rising Death Toll of Transgender Women of Color in the U.S.

Since January 9, 2015, twelve (12) Transgender women, mostly women of color, have lost their lives due to hate and Transphobia. Eight of these beautiful lives were lost in the first two months of the year. With such a high death toll, something must be done to raise awareness and end the senseless killings of a targeted, vulnerable community.
For Transgender women of color, safety is a real and warranted concern. We are asking the administration to raise awareness and take action to keep this community safe, by conducting a formal investigation of these deaths occurring across the county to the targeted community of Transgender women, particularly women of color.
Please take action to ensure this community does not have to live in fear of losing their lives to hate and violence.

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