In a rally and protest this afternoon, a large group gathered in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall today to call attention to the violence that continues to victimize transgender people, including the recent murders of Aniya Parker October 2nd and Jennifer Laude on October 12th.
Organizer Kerri Cecil, along with activists, community leaders, local clergy and a representative from the Los Angeles Police Department spoke to the crowd about change, tolerance and the need to engage the city leadership and media to call attention to the violence and murder of transgender Americans.
“We stood up today and raised our voices, united against the rampant violence being inflicted upon the transgender community. Community leaders spoke from their hearts as we pleaded for unity and for our allies to stand with us to raise awareness of these horrible hate crimes.”
— Kerri Cecil
Local artists Lunden Reign played a moving acoustic version of the title track from their upcoming album, “American Stranger”. The crowd grew quiet as lead singer Nikki Lunden sang the song about being a stranger in the country you grew up in and call home.
“The reason Nikki and I chose this song to perform is because it’s a story about those Americans who feel like a stranger in their own country, community, religion, family, society… just because others see them as ‘different'”, says guitarist Lora G Espinoza. “We felt like the audience would be able to connect with that feeling”.
Speakers told powerful stories of how murders, beatings, violence and discrimination plague the transgender community. Cecil was motivated to organize the event following the murder of Aniya Parker on October 2 — the eighth murder of a trans woman of color in the US since June. Nationally, transgender women of color face a much higher chance of being victimized; despite their minority numbers, trans persons of color represent more than half of all hate crimes and 73% of murder victims in the United States. The Trans Violence Tracker website is investigating or has verified 876 attacks on transgender people so far in the year 2014.
“I spoke with a reporter at the Vigil for Aniya [Parker]”, says Cecil, “and her attitude was that people won’t think we matter until we make some noise. So I decided then that we needed to make some noise”. The crowd seemed to agree, as colorful signs reading as “Trans Lives Matter!” and “Stop Killing Us!” served as a backdrop to the scene with the crowd chanting and singing between the different speakers.
“If your God teaches you that it is OK to hate and murder, maybe you need to think about that God, and what it is that you believe”.
— Deacon Li Arnee, Unity Fellowship Church