Sunday’s shooting death of another black transgender woman in Jacksonville is getting national attention as well as local lobbying for protection as at least two events are planned this week.
Our Florida Times-Union news partner reports it was Jacksonville’s third transgender homicide in four months, making up 23 percent of the nation’s 13 transgender victims so far in 2018, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
That puts Jacksonville at the center of a “crisis of violence” targeting the transgender community, according to the national campaign’s spokeswoman Sarah McBride. Members of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities plan to speak out in front of Jacksonville’s City Council Tuesday night, with a rally set the next night at the Duval County Courthouse.
The latest homicide was outside the Quality Inn and Suites on Dix Ellis Trail. The Sheriff’s Office listed the victim as 24-year-old Donald Christopher James of Bishopville, S.C. It did not say whether she went by another name. The shooting happened about 1 p.m. at the motel just south of Baymeadows Road. The only suspect information was that investigators are looking for a man in a beige vehicle. The Sheriff’s Office said witnesses told investigators the victim was “participating in illegal activity.”
The Human Rights Campaign is mourning James as well as 38-year-old Antash’a English and 36-year-old Celine Walker killed this year. McBride said they were young women worthy of respect. Now it’s time for Jacksonville officials to find out why they were killed, she said.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said there appears to be no connection between the homicides or a June 12 aggravated-battery shooting of another transgender woman who survived.
“There is no evidence or information gathered that leads us to believe there is any such pattern or trend involved,” Bujeda said.
McBride said said for years there has been a crisis of violence targeting the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color.
Jacksonville Transgender Awareness Project director Paige Mahogany Parks, who wants police to better protect that population, said it’s time for their voices be heard at City Council 5 p.m. Tuesday and in front of the Duval County Courthouse at 7 p.m. the next night. The Jacksonville Transgender Action Committee is calling Tuesday’s effort “Take Action! Demand Justice.” It and the Transgender Awareness Project are calling Wednesday’s rally “Trans Lives Matter: A Call for Justice.”
“We are getting proactive,” Parks said. “We are coming together with one cause — let’s solve these crimes.”
A longer version of this story is on Jacksonville.com that includes a look at Jacksonville’s first transgender homicide of 2018 and what McBride has said is repeated misgendering of Jacksonville’s transgender homicide victims by law enforcement.