Suspect arrested over murder of Black trans man Mar’Quis Jackson

A selfie photo of Mar'Quis Jackson wearing a white t-shirt shows him staring into the camera

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of killing Philadelphia transgender activist Mar’Quis Jackson.

Charles Mitchell, 40, was taken into custody by US marshals over the weekend. Mitchell had been on the run since Jackson’s murder in December 2022. He was found in Henderson, Nevada.

Mitchell faces charges of “murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence”.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office says the motive for murder is still unclear.

Mar’Quis Jackson’s sister Markiya Jackson spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer after learning of Mitchell’s arrest and expressed relief that her brother’s killer has been caught.

“I can’t even put into words what I feel now. All I know is God is good. I prayed last night to my brother and God to get Charles [Mitchell] off the streets,” she said.

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The arrest comes after Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner named Mitchell as a suspect at a press conference with Jackson’s family in March.

Jackson’s sister spoke at the conference and said at the time: “Nothing about gender or what this person does in their daily lives should be a reason for you to kill someone, and to leave them outside stripped of their clothes, of their shoes, and to beat them to death.”

Black trans people are more likely to face violence. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Jackson was found dead in Mitchell’s backyard on 14 December 2022 in the neighbourhood of Nicetown. Authorities say Jackson was badly beaten and left outside wearing only a t-shirt and boxers. Police believe his body had been there for 48 hours.

The trans activist celebrated his 33rd birthday on 12 December, just days before he was killed.

An autopsy later revealed he died of multiple blunt-force injuries to the head and his death was ruled a homicide.

Jackson’s friend Sharree Harvey described the 33-year-old as “full of life and love” and “well-known as a very proud, out trans man”.

Jackson was involved in transgender activism, supporting Philadelphia’s William Way Center, the Transgender Legal Defence Fund and the Free Ky Project.

Jackson is believed to be one of at least 38 trans people murdered in the US in 2022.

Prior to Jackson’s murder, Diamond Jackson-McDonald was shot and killed on Thanksgiving in Philadelphia. At the time of writing, the case has not been solved.

Addressing the disproportionate murder of trans people, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said in a statement: “We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality.”

HRC has documented at least 302 violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the US since the LGBTQ advocacy organisation began tracking such fatalities in 2013

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