Black Transgender Woman Fatally Stabbed at Portland Vigil

Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, also known as Rocky Rhone, became the 26th trans person known to have died a violent death this year.
Facebook/ Rocky Rhone

A Black transgender woman was attending a vigil for a shooting victim in Portland when she was stabbed to death on July 28.

Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, a 32-year-old who also went by the name Rocky Rhone, was one of two individuals stabbed after a fight broke out during the vigil for Tyrell Penney at a residence on Northeast 92nd Place in Portland, according to the Oregonian. Between 20 and 30 individuals were at the vigil for Penney, a 27-year-old Sacramento, California, man shot to death on July 25 while visiting Portland.

Rhone-Spears died at the scene after emergency responders were unable to save her, and an investigation into the crime is ongoing.

Specific details about who else was involved in the fight or how the dispute started were not available. Police do not appear to have any leads in the case and the Oregonian reported that the investigation is ongoing

“Black transgender women are being violently killed in our streets,” the Human Rights Campaign’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, Tori Cooper, said in a written statement. “The current rates of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people are unlike any the Human Rights Campaign has tracked in the past seven years. I, alongside HRC and so many others, am mourning the loss of Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears — who was not even able to attend a vigil to mourn without risk of death.”

Rhone became the 26th known transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary individual to die a violent death this year, which is the highest death toll seen in the community at this point in the year since HRC started tracking the cases in 2013.

July was an especially deadly month for Black transgender women. In the Bronx, a Black transgender woman named Tiffany Harris was fatally stabbed on July 26, while three Black transgender women — Draya McCarty, Shakie Peters, and Bree Black — were killed during the first week of the month alone in cases that spanned from Louisiana to Florida.

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