Two Black transgender women, one living in Florida and another in Louisiana, were killed within the last week.
Alexus Braxton, also known as Kimmy Icon Braxton, was killed in Miami on February 4, while Fifty Bandz was shot to death in Baton Rouge on January 28. Police discovered Braxton’s body at approximately 10:31 p.m at the California Club Condominiums at 915 North East 199 Street, the Miami-Dade Police Department told Gay City News.
Authorities pronounced Braxton dead at the scene and are investigating the incident as a homicide. Miami-Dade Police Department spokesperson Detective Colome told Gay City News they are pursuing all angles in the investigation including the possibility of a hate crime.
“We’re not discarding the possibility that it can potentially go that route as an additional charge,” Colome said. “But as of right now we’re definitely needing the assistance of anyone who can give us any information.”
The department usually releases more details about the victim’s death, but in this incident, authorities said disclosing how it was done may “jeopardize the case.”
Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, Bandz — who was just 21 when she died — was killed by a man she was in a relationship with for more than a year. The Baton Rouge Police Department told the Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper, that Michael Joshua Brooks, 20, killed her during a heated argument.
Brooks allegedly hid their on-and-off-again relationship and had threatened her life before, according to the Advocate. Additionally, witnesses described their interactions as “very volatile.” Last summer, Bandz posted videos of them together, the Advocate reported.
Hours before the shooting, Brooks was angry that Bandz delivered a cell phone in front of his girlfriend and brother. They then started arguing over the phone, according to a warrant obtained by the Advocate. The incident eventually escalated to the point where Brooks asked the woman to meet him in a different location — and that was where she was later found dead with multiple gunshot wounds.
In a written statement, Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, noted that many of these killings are a result of intimate partner violence, an issue disproportionately impacting the community.
“In just one month, multiple transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed, four of whom were Black trans women,” Cooper said in a written statement. “This level of violence is infuriating and heartbreaking. This is an epidemic of violence that must be stopped. We will continue to affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter and say the names of those we have lost, including Fifty Bandz, but we must do more.”
“Fifty was killed by someone she knew — if we can’t trust the people we know, who can we trust? We need everyone to take action to bring this horrific violence to an end,” Cooper added.
On social media, Dee Dee Watters, a transgender advocate who is the new publisher of the TransGriot, a site created by the late Monica Roberts, held a virtual candlelight vigil and released balloons in the victim’s honor.
After a record-high 44 known transgender Americans were killed last year, the violence against transgender or gender-non-conforming people is seeping into this year. Dominique Jackson was shot to death in Mississippi on January 25, Davarea “Tyianna” Alexander was shot and killed in Chicago on January 6, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín died after getting shot in Puerto Rico on January 9, and Natasha Keianna was found dead in an SUV in Detroit on January 12.
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