US: Authorities urged to solve murder of black trans women in three states

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Two organisations in the US are calling for action by authorities, following the murder of several black, transgender women across three states.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), in New York, and the Washington DC-based National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), have cited three recent murders in Ohio, Florida and Maryland.

The groups, who have joined together to make the appeal, noted the murder of 29-year-old Kelly Young on 3 April, who lived in Baltimore.

The coalition also cited the murders of Ashley Sinclair, 30, of Orlando, Florida, and 20-year-old Cemia Dove, from Cleveland, Ohio. All three murders remain unsolved.

A joint statement from the groups called on law enforcement to solve the cases.

“Each year, NCAVP tracks the homicides of lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in the U.S. in which an anti-LGBTQ motive is known,” said Chai Jindasurat, coordinator at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), in a statement.

“However, for many LGBTQ homicide victims, especially transgender women and people of color who are disproportionally affected by anti-LGBTQ violence, a motive is never determined. It is imperative to call attention to these incidents so that the lives of these individuals are not forgotten or overlooked and so that we can bring all resources to bear to discover what happened to them, when that is possible.”

According to NCAVP, there were 30 documented cases of anti-LGBT homicides in 2011, and transgender women made up 40% of the murders, and 87% of the victims were black.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO of NBJC, said: “Enough is enough,

“Three unsolved homicides within one month should elicit a national outcry. We need to hold our law enforcement officials accountable at every level – from local police departments that need to work tirelessly to find these killers and bring them to justice, to federal agencies such as the Department of Justice that should create a national task force to address the serial killings of black trans women in this nation. How many more lives must be lost before we takes serious action to stop this madness?”

Shortly following the murder of Young, Baltimore police told TV news outlets that it was uncertain whether her death was a hate crime. She was found with a single gunshot wound, inside a residence, was taken to hospital, and later was pronounced dead.