Police said it was ‘reasonable force’ to shoot Roxanne Moore 16 times. (Getty)
Police officers who fired 16 shots at Black trans woman Roxanne Moore used “reasonable force”, says the Pennsylvania district attorney.
Moore, 29, remains in hospital, in critical but stable condition, after being fired at by officers on September 13.
At a press conference on Wednesday (September 23), Pennsylvania district attorney John T. Adams said that the police shooting Moore 16 times was “justified” and confirmed that she was hit multiple times.
“Based on the facts of what took place here, the law that we must follow here in Pennsylvania, I have determined that the shooting was a reasonable use of force, which was justified under the law here in Pennsylvania,” Adams said.
Moore allegedly pointed a gun at officers before they fired at her. Authorities later found that though the gun she was wielding was loaded, it was unoperable due to a safety mechanism that wouldn’t allow it to be fired.
“The only person who knew that that gun could not fire, most likely, was the owner of the gun, from whom it was taken,” Adams said. “There’s no way anyone could have determined from a distance that that gun could not be fired.”
He added that footage from the body cameras worn by officers had not been released, as local activists have been urging, because Moore will be charged once she is medically fit.
“I would have released the body cam footage, but it’s evidence in a criminal case,” he said. “We would be happy to release it.”
Police had been called to reports of “shots fired” at 7am on September 13 in Reading, Pennsylvania. The first officer to arrive on the scene saw Moore holding a gun, ordered her to drop it, and fired when she didn’t.
Moore had reportedly just left her apartment after having an argument. She was known to police as having mental-health issues and Adams said she was “displaying erratic behaviour” during the incident on September 13.
All three officers involved in the shooting have been put on temporary administrative leave.
Friends and family of Roxanne Moore gathered last Sunday (September 20) to show her their support, as she remained in hospital following the shooting.
Wearing Black Trans Lives Matter buttons and T-shirts, friends and family spoke of their love for Moore.
“I just want my sister to know I love her,” her brother reportedly said, according to the local newspaper Reading Eagle. “That’s all.”
Moore’s family and friends also criticised the police’s handling of events, saying that officers should have used deescalation tactics or crisis intervention instead of opening fire.
They claimed someone who was experiencing visible trauma should have been met with “patience and compassion […] not violence, felony charges, and hospitalization,” as the Reading Eagle reported.
A date has not been set for the return to work of the three officers involved in the shooting.
Jane Palmer, executive director of the progressive group Berks Stands Up, said: “We see in their treatment centuries of racism and homophobia, and we have had enough.
“Do Black people ever get the benefit of the doubt in a situation involving the police? Add trans or gender-nonconforming on top of that, and you’re in real trouble.
“We’re here today for Roxanne, who is, at this very moment, still in the hospital in critical condition because of who she is: a Black trans woman.
“Any one of those things, being Black, being trans, being a woman, would make her vulnerable, but she lives at the intersection of all three.”
Patrisse Cullors at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
Patrisse Cullors, the artist, activist and prison abolitionist who co-founded Black Lives Matter, has condemned televangelist Pat Robertson’s for suggesting the movement is anti-Christian because it is LGBT-inclusive.
Robertson, 90, made the comments last week on his The 700 Club chat show. He claimed that the Black Lives Matter movement will lead to a “lesbian, anti-family, anti-capitalist Marxist revolution”.
Calling Robertson’s comments “outlandish”, “inflammatory” and “dangerous”, Cullors said that his insinuation that Black Lives Matter is anti-religion is “disgraceful” and offensive to Christian campaigners against racial injustice.
“People are hurting all across this country due to the carelessness of comments made by individuals like Pat Robertson,” Cullors said in a statement on the Black Lives Matter website.
“At what point do those individuals who walk alongside him stop and say, enough is enough with the sexist, misogynistic, and supremacist way of displaying the bigotry that continues to flow from the souls of many of our leaders.
“Christianity was built on empathy; not hate. Until hate and racism is eradicated, America will continue to be a divided nation.”
An unprecedented number of global protests against police brutality and racism began in May, after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck, and have continued over the summer.
Robertson had also criticised Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback whose football career was effectively ended when he knelt during the US anthem to highlight police brutality and racism during the 2016 NFL preseason.
“Athletes used to be terribly admired by all of society, but their rating has gone to negative because of their association with Black Lives Matter,” Robertson said, citing no actual sources.
“Of course Black lives matter, but that legitimate thing has been hijacked by these radicals.”
These “radicals”, Robertson claimed, aim to “destroy the nuclear family” and paint “Christianity as being racist”.
In her statement, Cullors concluded: “It is our hope that Pat Robertson and anyone else who believes we are destroying Christianity with our work, would join us in our movement as we will continue to galvanise these moments of division and false character accusations as fuel to move our country and world forward.
“Every day, we are surviving — if we do. We will continue to rise up until all Black lives are valued and matter across this world.”
This afternoon’s Saturday Night Live press release ahead of their new season came with some interesting tidbits: Jim Carrey will be recruited to play Joe Biden, if that’s your thing; they will go back to performing in front of a (limited) live studio audience inside Rockefeller Center — which sounds more dangerous than I’d be willing to be for 90 minutes of comedy, but hey maybe that’s just me; and one of my favorite players Ego Nwodim is finally getting her well-earned promotion to main cast member.
By far THE MOST EXCITING NEWS is that this season of SNL is about to get very real about who’s all gay here… adding self-proclaimed “brutally honest Southern lesbian” Punkie Johnson to the ensemble!
Let’s run some stats on that: With the addition of Punkie Johnson, SNL just got roughly 100% more lesbian than last season, joining Kate McKinnon for a record breaking two (lol, yes TWO!) out lesbians in the cast at the same time. Punkie and Kate will obviously also be joining out gay cast member and writer Bowen Yang, which certainly makes this the gayest ass season of SNL yet — and it hasn’t even started yet. But wait! There’s more! Punkie Johnson will officially become first out Black lesbian in the show’s 46 year history. Gay gasp!
She’s not the first Black lesbian to become a Saturday Night Live repertory player — that was Danitra Vance, who joined the cast in 1985, although she was not out at the time. Vance was the second-ever lesbian cast member, after Denny Dillon, who also was not out. She was cast the same year as Terry Sweeny, the first openly gay male cast member of SNL, marking the first time there were two LGBTQ+ cast members at the same time. Vance left the show a year later, reportedly “frustrated with being relegated to stereotypical black female roles.” She passed away in 1994 from breast cancer.
Punkie Johnson also adds her name to the small cohort of only just 22 Black cast members that have worked over the course of ensemble comedy behemoth’s 46 years. That group includes only seven Black women: Yvonne Hudson (1980–1981), Danitra Vance (1985–1986), Ellen Cleghorne (1991–1995), Maya Rudolph (2000–2007), Leslie Jones (2014–2019), Sasheer Zamata (2014–2017), and Ego Nwodim (2018-present).
From the press release, here is Punkie’s bio:
Punkie Johnson is a comedian and writer whose recent credits include “Space Force,” “Corporate,” “Adam Ruins Everything” and “Bill Burr Presents: The Ringers.” She was a New Face at the Just for Laughs Festival in 2019 and is a proud paid regular at the world famous Comedy Store in Hollywood.
You might also know Punkie from her NOTABLE guest starring role in last summer’s A Black Lady Sketch Show where she competed as the “dance biter” in what was easily one of the show’s most iconic and gay sketches (thank you to Autostraddle TV writer and noted Internet research sleuth Natalie for the hot tip):
While we’re here, let’s go ahead and peep this very funny stand-up of Punkie talking about how role playing saved her marriage:
I don’t know a lot about Punkie just yet. Luckily, I have a month to obsessively learn everythiiiing possible to there is learn! SNL comes back on October 3rd. Personally I look forward to getting on my Issa Rae and:
I love film, it’s one of the main pop culture mediums where I have searched to find myself the most. If it wasn’t the romantic comedies, with the same white leading ladies falling in love in two weeks, it was the teen comedies where the racially ambiguous best friend made everyone laugh while eating pizza in the food court. When I was younger, and even admittedly sometimes now, I excused the lack of representation on the screen. I opted for piecing together bits of each character in a film to connect with some frankensteined version of myself but — how fly would it be to not have to do that?
Last weekend I got the opportunity to attend the Black Femme Supremacy Film Fest and got to spend the entire time looking at fully realized, multiple versions of myself on my television. Founded by Nia Hampton and put on with the help of the rest of her crew, this year marks the 3rd annual festival, sponsored by Ava Duvernays’ ARRAY, amongst others, and it’s the first digital version of the festival.
The programmers have decided to extend it to this weekend (A perk of the forced digital format!) through September 11 – 13. It gives those who missed out the chance to join in, and those who were there the opportunity to kick back and rewatch their favorites!
Going digital didn’t mean there would be a lack of programming either, there were panels, live Q&As’ with directors, and free events to teach those who are ready to jump into the world of film that were led by black femmes.
There were over 40 films to watch and it’s incredible to see the talent, ingenuity, and skill bought to the screen by so many black femmes. These are just a few of my favorites. Free of spoilers but full of hype.
Directed by Juh Almeida, this short was part of the Defining Black block during the festival. The opening sounds of the waves crashing against the body of the films’ protagonist filled my speakers. The camera’s super intimate focus on their white headwrap and closeups on their features, while a voice is heard over the waves, all made up it one of the strongest pieces of the festival.
Also a part of the Defining Black block of shorts, this film blends Black kitsch and mockumentary — two things I love and have been desperate to see more of from Black women in film. Directed by Lucretia Stinnette, it features two friends who look back on their youth of being Black women raised in their mostly white suburban town, Pleasanton, in the 1990s, complete with cute soundtrack vibes and animation.
My favorite film in the Legacy of Beauty shorts block, focuses on three Black women and their hair, a topic I have written about here on Autostraddle in the past. I frequently feel that non-Black people, especially those who are white, feel like we’ve talked enough about the relationship that Black women have with their hair. This film, directed by Kourtney Jackson, serves as a reminder that it goes quite deep and inspires Black women to hold space for each other on a topic that is close to so many of us.
I was thrilled to see this short (that is being turned into a feature film), as part of the Legacy of the WAP block at the festival. I saw Tender, written and directed by Felicia Pride, a few months back, and loved every minute of it. It’s a look at the morning after, one not filled with regret and a quick escape but instead, one that becomes infinitely more intimate than the physical aspect of the night before. The way these two Black, queer women who are at different places in so many areas of their lives, connect despite that — is enchanting.
and lastly my pick of the festival….
I was most excited about the Legacy of Black Magic short block — I have newly been connecting with my family and discovering the magical ancestry of the lineage I come from. There is an entire history to one side of my family that has remained a mystery to me for years that has begun to unveil itself. Things that I have been drawn to make more sense and beliefs I’ve always had have become deeper. I lost my grandfather when I was young, he was the person in my family who I have always been the closest to and I was never given the chance for a proper goodbye. In this film, directed and animated by Jacqueline CJ Barnes, a girl is dealing with the death of her beloved grandfather and has to decide to either forget him or break the family way and remember him.
The Black Femme Supremacy Film Fest being online his year not only permits people to stay safe, but opens up the festivals’ films, documentaries, shorts and more, to be viewed by people all across the world. It may not have been ideal but it helps to push forward one of the festivals missions to “..re-envision the black femme as a global protagonist and universal archetype”.
By any measure, Black Walnut Point on Maryland’s Tilghman Island is unique. A private gate and a half-mile drive through fifty seven acres of bird sanctuary leads you to a natural paradise and our six-acre island of lawn.
As the sun rises over the Choptank River and sets over the length of Chesapeake Bay, you’ll enjoy sea breezes, ocean waves and endless gorgeous water views.
Our property is chock-full of wildlife – a pair of nesting eagles, osprey and black ducks, migrating butterflies, water fowl and singing birds. You may even see dolphins, skates and schools of bluefish out on the bay. And the back dock, looking out over the cove, is the perfect place to watch the herons fish.
At night, our Maryland sky is full of stars, another surprise of nature, making Black Walnut Point a quiet, secret, peaceful place just an hour by car from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
See the Blak Walnut Point Inn Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here
Maryland Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals
I follow hundreds of queer book blogs to scout out the best sapphic book news and reviews! Many of them get posted on Tumblr and Twitter as I discover them, but my favourites get saved for these link compilations. Here are some of the posts I’ve found interesting in the last few weeks.
Over at Medium, Elizabeth Andre shared 79 Black Lesbian (and Bi, Queer, Trans, and Non-binary) Fiction Authors You Should Know, so there’s no excuse to not be reading Black queer books! If you’re a non-Black person, we should be reading both books that educate us about anti-Blackness as well as stories about Black joy. This list includes a lot of Romance authors, so that’s a great place to start!
Along the same lines, also check out Book Riot’s 20 Must-Read Black Authors of LGBTQ Books. I always look through these LGBTQ lists to make sure they’re not mostly m/m books, so rest assured there are lots of sapphic books to add to your TBR here.
I’ve been mentioning this every round up, but that’s because you should be aware of Autostraddle’s Year of Our (Audre) Lorde, where Jehan reads Audre Lorde poems and connects them to what’s happening in the world right now. Last month was July Is a Black Unicorn.
Speaking of Black sapphic reads, Sometimes Leelynn Reads created The Cinderella is Dead Book Tag, so if you read and loved Cinderella is Dead and have a book blog/bookstagram account/booktuber channel, give this tag a try, and let me know what your answers are!
The Lesbrary New Releases posts promote sapphic books of all kinds, but sometimes you’re looking for a particular identity. For the bi+ bibliophiles, check out reads rainbow’s Book Releases: July-December 2020 Books With Bi Protagonists.
And for pan page-turners, there’s also Book Riot’s 5 Books With Pansexual Main Characters.
Of course, I’m not forgetting the literary lesbians. Here’s Audible’s Best Lesbian Listens by Queer Authors.
Audiobooks are a great way to squeeze in reading during commutes or chores or just when the world is on fire and you can’t concentrate on the page. For more recs, try Book Riot’s 15 LGBTQ YA Audiobooks to Listen to in the Second Half of 2020.
Casey Stepaniuk is also providing awesome queer book recommendations, and her latest is at Autostraddle: 8 Great Queer Scandinavian Books, from Tender Novels to Supernatural Horror.
If you’re already eagerly anticipating fall, Book Riot’s 12 Queer Witch Books to Bring the Magic to Your TBR would make for excellent books to stock up on before those breezy Autumn nights.
Over at Electric Literature, Jessica Xing wrote about equating her queerness with monstrousness as a young closeted person, and how pulp helped with that, in Lesbian Pulp Novels Made Me Feel Normal.
OZY wrote about Nobuko Yoshiya, the first writer of Yuri, who is an amazing historical figure more people need to know about: The Daring Feminist Writer Who Inspired Manga.
And for another historical exploration, check out ‘Paris-Lesbos’: the Vibrant Lesbian Community Where Women in the 1920s Thrived to learn about the literary lesbian salons of Paris in the 1920s, and how queer authors flourished at that particular point in history.
This post has the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even more links, check out the Lesbrary’s Twitter! We’re also on Facebook, Goodreads, Youtube and Tumblr.
Kirsten Harris-Talley is an organizing phenom in Seattle, a one-time city council member, a queer Black woman, an abolitionist, a candidate for state representative, a Scorpio rising, an Aries moon, and a Gemini/Taurus cusp sun.
After leading in the primaries, Harris-Talley will be running in November to represent Washington’s 37th District, a Seattle district historically populated by Black and Indigenous peoples and people of color. She has worked within and alongside people-powered movements for twenty years — experience which underpins her political agenda. Her career in reproductive justice led to midwifery and doula access for pregnant people in prisons. She has offered a commitment to funding these services, in addition to expanding reproductive healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrants and trans people. As a grassroots activist, she has fought for paths towards abolition. Her campaign platform envisions an end to state investment in private detention centers and the elimination of bail and solitary confinement.
For this Q & A, I told Kirsten I was interested in queering notions of political leadership — what can a “serious” political figure talk about and value publicly? Here she discusses the importance of culturally queer touchstones in her life: astrology, ancestry, vulnerability, community, crushes and femme joy.
I named that some people might call this content “trivial,” that there are demands on Black and brown women to sterilize their femmehood and to perform a white-washed, “masculine” dispassion as “proof” that they are fit for leadership. To this, she said, “On the other side of liberation, we should all be able to be more joyous in our lives. That’s how we know that we get there.”
Anis Gisele: Pronouns?
Kirsten Harris-Talley: She/her!
A: “Queer” is a political identity and an active verb. bell hooks has called “queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent … a place to speak and to thrive and to live.”
This question is a two parter: what has your queerness given you, and how do you feel like you’re queering our notions of leadership?
K: I don’t know that I have ever verbally proclaimed my queerness as much in my life as I have campaigning. Political campaigning is bizarre. It’s the hardest, longest, most complicated job interview, as well it should be. You’re asking folks to trust you. So for me, understanding my queerness, it’s an interesting exercise to be announcing it so often and have folks asking me to prove it in some way. It’s an interesting query. (Laughs) I didn’t mean to make a pun.
A: I appreciate it!
K: And because “queer” is such an all-inclusive umbrella term, some folks just wanna identify what I mean by it.
I think queerness has always been about reinventing for yourself that which will not invite and hold you dear. And almost every bit of beauty in the world that all of us embrace, queer minds and bodies and spirits built those things.
For me, my queerness, I’m attracted to folks all along a gender spectrum — that’s actually infinite. And I think we’re all coming back to that — and I say “back to that” because there isn’t an indigenous culture that didn’t understand what we’re relearning for ourselves.
It’s interesting in this moment to still have some folks say, “I don’t do politics,” and for most of them what they’re saying is, “I’m scared of conflict, I’m scared of what it is to be out of concert with things,” and the intersection of queerness with any other identity, you’re always, I’m always in conflict in some way with things, just having a critical lens at all.
A: Definitely. My queerness helps me live in what I’m afraid of. I wasn’t positive you identify as femme, but I’m hearing you do? (K nods)
May I ask about your root? Which is either your first queer crush or the first time you saw an external embodiment of your queerness?
K: I don’t think I had a full pulse on it but … Grace Jones.
A: (Author’s note: Loud smack here. Honestly can’t remember if I slapped myself or clapped.)
K: I was born in ’79, grew up in the 80’s, right, and cable was new. Our mother is white, our father is Black, and we were Black kids growing up in deep poverty in rural Missouri. One of our favorite shows was Pee-wee Herman’s Playhouse, and I remember Grace Jones on there with this fabulous hat and this dance and the way she, like, stood. I remember thinking, “This is a woman, but they’re handsome and okay with that,” and I remember being compelled by that and not understanding it totally but knowing I was very interested. (Laughs)
K: It was unlike anything I would’ve experienced in my everyday life too.
A: I feel like a root, often, is about seeing a woman — and in your case definitely a Black woman — who does not give a fuck about the male gaze.
K: She didn’t care about any gaze, right?
A: For sure. If your sun were a character from The L Word, who would that be?
K: Who was Pam Grier’s character?
A: KIT! Kit sun?
K: I’m very high energy as a cusp. My cusp is the cusp of energy. I can go go go go go. You got your earth and your air thing.
Being a Taurus Gemini, I’m like, “Thank you very — oh, squirrel!” And Kit had that energy.
A: She did. She really did. Do you feel your Scorpio rising?
K: Scorpio energy, I feel like, is culturally what it is to be a Black femme.
A: Say more?
K: Truth tellers. How much that is the role of Black femmes in our culture.
K: The hard thing about being a truth teller is when you can so clearly see the truth and name it and find there are some folks who either want to ignore it or actively try to undermine it. That’s what’s so startling about the blatant context of politics in the United States now. I say “blatant context” because nothing happening under the current president is new for our community. It’s just the blatancy of what’s happening that’s new for a lot of people. We talk about misinformation more than information now. It’s an interesting time for truth tellers.
Many of the things around Scorpio I had to learn how to be, and I learned it mostly through Black queer folks and Black femmes particularly. Being vulnerable emotionally is not easy for Black femmes. We’re not allowed to have that, and Scorpios can be very transparent about the emotional life. That’s something I’ve had to nurture over time and build safety for myself to do readily.
A: Does an Aries moon resonate with you, the fire, spontaneity?
K: It does. I’ve been involved with the local police abolition work since 2012, acutely with the consent decree and the Block the Bunker campaign. [Former] Mayor [Ed] Murray had a lot of power during the start of police contract negotiations. Community came together, and we shelved the most expensive police precinct that was going to be built in the history of North America. The strategy and sophistication of that campaign — it was constantly having folks be like, “Oh, I know what they’re [the cop-aganda’s] doing, I’m gonna do this now.” It was us being able to (snaps) flip on a dime and respond in that moment. That spontaneity is the only way forward because the folks crafting what we’re living in now are doing it very deliberately and we have to move quickly.
That campaign was asking the core questions that we should have had answers to as a community: “Why are we spending this money? Why are we spending it this way? Who’s responsible? Who’s accountable? How did this happen?” There weren’t answers that satisfied people, and we kept asking until finally he got a poll that said he wasn’t gonna win on it.
A: Okay, your childhood is a TV series. What would the first scene in the pilot episode be?
K: (Laughs) Oh, wow. My people are from the East coast. My mother is from Ohio. My father’s from Baltimore. So really plainspoken people, they speak their minds. Debate was welcomed and healthy. I jive with a lot of people who are overlapping talkers. I can also literally carry five conversations at once.
K: (Laughs) There would definitely have to be some scene at the dinner table and everyone’s there and five things are happening and a conversation starts and ends then gets picked up and there’s maybe a squabble and everyone makes up and laughs. Missouri is called the Show Me State. Folks are really plain about whatever they think.
But no food fights. That’s one thing culturally in my family — we find food fights very disrespectful on so many levels. I remember, in shows, that was a big thing in the 80’s — people would break out into food fights. I was always like, “That’s … (lowers voice) not right.”
A: (Laughs) Sneaker queer, stiletto queer or combat boot queer?
K: … Yes.
K: I have a lot of shoes. I have a lot of moods to invite footwear. I like all those moments, all of them.
A: That’s what the people want to know. Outfit that feels like second skin to you?
K: Right now I’ve been living in these great burgundy joggers with really deep pockets and usually a really cozy goldenrod or yellow shirt. I’ve been wearing a lot of my protest shirts, of course, lately, going to lots of marches.
A: Would you describe a protest shirt?
K: Yeah! Leona and Luis own The Station in Beacon Hill. She made these amazing shirts that say, “Stop Fucking Killng Us,” and I was like, “I need that shirt.” I think it’s pretty clear!
My other one, I really adore, it’s like, “NAH,” then it’s like, “Rosa Parks.” I love thinking, like, [the white bus driver] came up, and they were like, “Ma’am (laughs), you’re gonna have to move to the back of the bus,” and she’s just like, “NAH. I’m not, and also, we’ve already organized, and you don’t even know what’s happening tomorrow.”
A: Yes! Okay, Ijeoma Oluo says, “White supremacy requires a lack of imagination, that you don’t ask where else we can go.” Imagination exercise: When we abolish prisons, what would you propose we do with the land the prisons were on?
K: Give them right back to indigenous people and let them imagine with other folks of color what to build there instead. I mean, where else could you start but to do that, to literally free the land back to the people who were the original stewards of that land to start anew collectively with others?
A: Yes. You said in a Crosscut interview, “I don’t think you can be in a position where you’re representing the people and not actually be with the people.” How did you learn to share power?
K: Oh, that’s a beautiful question. I really learned it from my mom and the elders in my life. Growing up where I grew up, in a rural community, we have close proximity to elders, and I really listened to their stories, and all their stories were about collectiveness, and where we lived was about collectiveness, like you can’t be in rural Missouri and have your cows get past the fence and not call every neighbor to come help you get them back. My godmother — Hazel Mae Free was her name — we spent our summers on our farm where she and Mr. Free, our godfather, taught me so much about that. They were stewards of their land, and it was a huge dream of theirs to own their own land and farm their own land. She grew up as the daughter of sharecroppers and had to quit school to pick crops as a child. We grew up poor poor poor poor poor. Everyone worked collectively to make sure everyone had what they needed — it’s the only way. And it stuck. It stuck.
A: What everyday practices or everyday magic connects you to your ancestors?
K: I have always been a collector of beautiful objects, and I have a lot of objects from the elders who are no longer with me in my life. My grandma Mary lived in segregated Baltimore, and she raised her four boys under what I can’t even imagine — what it was to raise four Black boys in segregated Baltimore during the height of the civil rights movement, you know? Her birth stone was a garnet, so I have a lot of garnets around, things that remind me of her.
A: This has been really lovely, thank you, Kirsten. I’m wondering if we can end with a look forward. Who is a youth activist, artist or cultural worker you find exciting?
K: Wow. I really love Jerrell Rell Be Free‘s work. I love that every bit of activism right now has been integrated in the arts. Folks try to neutralize the impact of the arts and pretend that it’s something that’s saccharine and just about pleasure, and so much of the arts is actually about struggle and truth-telling and recording these stories that can’t be told in any other way. Jerrell’s someone who’s on the front end of this work at places like WA-BLOC and speaking truth that we can hear it in a way that we wouldn’t hear it before.
Samson Tequir. (Facebook)
In the latest flare-up amid the Black Lives Matter protests continuing to seize major US cities, a Black trans man was left with his jaw and eye socket shattered after two men brutally beat him up.
Samson Tequir, 30, who helps organise demonstrations in Rochester, New York, was assailed last Friday afternoon (July 31), law enforcement said.
Surveillance footage from a nearby storefront captured the rattling moment when two males hurl anti-LGBT+ slurs at Tequir outside Big Town Grocery at Denver Street and Parsells Avenue on the city’s east side, then, while walking home with bags of groceries, everything went dark.
He was unconscious. Medics said he was likely struck more than once. Tequir awoke to the sounds of his friend yelling, the dialling of police.
Tequir, now wearing a black eyepatch in his home, told Democrat & Chronicle that, following the attack, he now needs titanium plates inserted to repair a broken eye socket and suffered multiple fractures to his cheekbone.
Male 2: Wearing a white tank top, dark shorts, and a white shirt on his head.
If you know the males, please call ☎️CrimeStoppers☎️ 423-9300.
— Patrol_Section_Investigations_RPD (@RPD_PSI) August 1, 2020
“My story is not new,” he reflected.
“It is not the last one, and I can look around the room I am in right now and find more of those stories just the same. The only reason you are hearing about it is because people happened to know my name.”
It was warm when Tequir and his partner left to grab Gatorade and water. Watching his partner go inside the grocers, Tequir described, he said two men down the street began to yell.
They lobbed abuse at him, saying “I couldn’t stand on the corner like that”, and shouted: “I had to get off his corner with that gay [expleitive].”
The men drew closer and “they told me that I shouldn’t be dressed like that, I had to get out of here with these gay clothes and all that.”
After Tequir said he would not leave until his partner was done shopping, the men, he said, then went into the Big Town Grocery and were hostile towards Tequir’s partner.
Tequir said that the pair focused on getting back home while the men lurked behind them, but the men struck Tequir’s head, hurling him into unconsciousness.
“The preliminary investigation revealed that the victims were approached by two suspects who engaged in a verbal altercation with the victims regarding one of the victim’s sexual orientation,” read a statement released by the Rochester Police Department.
“The Rochester Police Department is investigating this incident as a potential hate crime and is consulting with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.”
Merci Mack was just 22 years old when she was shot and left in a Dallas parking lot. (HRC)
Merci Mack, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman, was tragically killed by a gunshot to the head on June 30 in Texas, making her at least the 18th trans person murdered in the US so far this year.
According to Out, there were no eyewitnesses to her murder, and police are appealing to the public for help.
Local residents heard gunshots at around 5am. They did not call emergency services.
Mack was found unconscious in a Dallas parking lot by a passerby who called an ambulance at 6.15am, but the 22-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Mack recently posted on Facebook that she was excited to return to her job at a restaurant which has been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She loved baking cookies and relaxing in the jacuzzi.
on april 9th, #MerciMack posted this picture on facebook to commemorate her 22nd birthday. yesterday morning, she was found shot to death in a dallas parking lot. another trans woman’s life stolen, and for what? because she dared to live it? pic.twitter.com/cWYjmGdMrN
— Kelley Rand (@kelley_rand) July 1, 2020
Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a statement: “Another Black transgender woman has had her life stolen from her.
“We cannot become numb to the fact that our community has learned of more killings of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the past few weeks than HRC has ever tracked in the past seven years.
“Her friends say that Merci Mack was a young, upbeat soul who deserved to experience a full life.
“HRC is mourning with Merci’s loved ones and are calling for a full, thorough investigation into her death.”
In 2019, there were 27 trans people murdered in America. According to the LGBT+ rights organisation, Merci Mack is at least the 18th trans person who has been violently killed in the United States so far this year, just six months into 2020.
Since HRC began collecting data on the violent deaths of trans people in America, 10 per cent of killings have occurred in Texas. The state is tied with Florida for the greatest percentage of violent trans deaths nationwide.
Police are asking anyone with information in connection with Mack’s death to contact Dallas police Detective Brian Tabor at 214-671-3605 or [email protected]