“We have two different worlds. We’re fed up with the murders. We’re fed up with law enforcement just brutally killing us.”
As protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd and police brutality entered their eighth night, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the historic Stonewall Inn in New York Tuesday yelling the name of another black man killed in a confrontation with police: Tony McDade.
McDade, a 38-year-old black trans man, was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 27, two days after Minneapolis police kneeled on Floyd for almost nine minutes until he couldn’t breathe. Tallahassee police said in a press release that McDade was the suspect in a local stabbing and was armed, which led to the shooting.
His death hasn’t received much attention in the wake of Floyd’s killing. Protests have happened in Florida, and national LGBTQ rights organizations including the Human Rights Campaign and the National Black Justice Coalition released statements about the killing.
Now, trans rights advocates are taking to the streets in New York, during Pride Month, to call for an investigation and bring more attention to the killing of black trans people.
“The cis people always take to the streets over all of their deaths, their murders,” said TS Candii, a 26-year-old black trans woman and one of the organizers of the protest at the Stonewall Inn. “We have two different worlds. We’re fed up with the murders. We’re fed up with law enforcement just brutally killing us.”
McDade’s death was at least the 12th killing of a trans or gender-non-conforming person in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Three of the known killings occurred in the last month — one of which, McDade’s, was at the hands of police.
Black trans women are disproportionately killed by violence, and arrest rates for their murders are significantly lower than for other demographics.
Though most of the killings of black trans women are not at the hands of police, the community does disproportionately experience police harassment. A third of black trans women who interact with police report that officers assume they are sex workers. Nearly 90% of trans women who police assume are sex workers report experiencing police harrassment and abuse, including verbal, physical, and sexual assaults.
Like the nationwide protests since Floyd’s death last month, the stark disparity in the treatment of black people by police was the central theme of the gathering on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s organizers led speeches in Sheridan Square outside the Stonewall Inn, where six days of violent protests against police in 1969 kickstarted the modern gay rights movement. Candii and Tahtianna Fermin, another organizer, recognized trans people of color killed by violence and called out the names of McDade and Nina Pop, a trans woman murdered in May, into the crowd.