Black Trans Lives Matter vigil held ahead of George Floyd murder trial

Black Lives Matter Capitol Hill Seattle Washington

A Black Trans Lives Matter vigil was held in Seattle on Sunday (7 March) ahead of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd.

The vigil, which took place on Sunday (7 March), saw 75 people gathered around the Bobby Morris Playfield in Capitol Hill, Seattle. The crowd heard speeches from organisers and wrote messages or the names of trans people whose lives were tragically cut short by violence means, according to Capitol Hill Seattle.

The vigil also involved a march from Cal Anderson Park, passing by the Seattle police department’s east precinct and travelled down to the King County youth jail facility. According to Capitol Hill Seattle, a young trans woman, who was a former detainee, shared the abuse she and other trans youth faced in the jail system.

“Black Trans Lives Matter is not a hashtag,” she said. “Locking up trans kids is not cute, period.”

Another organiser told the marchers: “I don’t care if you’re transgender, female or male. You’re disrespected, period.

“They see what they see because it is more important to them than who is in front of them — contributing to the patriarchy — than respecting what the human in front of them knows what they are.”

The march was part of a weekend of activism in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood, the Capitol Hill Seattle reported. The news outlet said further demonstrations gathered in Seattle and more were planned as juror selection begins for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd.

Chauvin killed Floyd on 25 May, 2020 by kneeling on his neck for eight minutes. During those eight minutes Floyd said “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times.

Chauvin stands charged with second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter. The maximum sentence he faces is 40 years. The trial is scheduled to begin on 29 March, and the jury selection is currently ongoing.

Three other former officers, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng Tou Thao, will face trial at a later date for aiding and abetting counts.

Floyd’s death sparked an unprecedented wave of Black Lives Matter protests, including protests calling for the protection of Black trans lives.

At least 44 trans or gender non-conforming people died in 2020 by violent means, making it the deadliest year on record for the trans community. The majority of trans people who died were people of colour.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which has been tracking reports of anti-trans violence for several years, said it had never “seen such a high number” of violent, tragic and senseless deaths of trans people as it did in 2020.

Despite this, the US media spent less than an hour covering anti-trans violence last year.

An analysis of broadcast and cable TV news in 2020 by Media Matters found networks only spent 54 minutes discussing anti-trans violence across 23 segments aired in 2020. MSNBC dedicated 31 minutes to the topic while every other network in the analysis only discussed anti-trans violence for six minutes or less.