Jacksonville, FL Equality Florida mourns the murder of a transgender woman killed this Sunday in Jacksonville and joins with local LGBTQ leaders in calling on law enforcement to change policies that are hampering the investigation into what many fear may be a serial killer.
Since February, four transgender women of color have been gunned down in the city of Jacksonville. Three of the victims died from their gunshot wounds, the fourth victim was shot five times but survived. All remain unsolved and the transgender community grieves while fearing for their safety.
Four months into what some fear may be the work of a serial killer, law enforcement continues to misgender the victims. Not only is this disrespectful, it erodes trust and may create an unwillingness by others in the community to step forward.
Since the death of Celine Walker in February, Gina Duncan, Equality Florida's Director of Transgender Equality and Chair of TransAction Florida, has been working along with local transgender advocacy groups to educate the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office ( JSO ), offering transgender cultural competency training and resources to give law enforcement the most effective way to respond to violence against transgender people. Today, JSO contacted Equality Florida to say they are considering the same Department of Justice-sanctioned training that other agencies have undergone.
"The transgender community in Jacksonville is frightened. They fear this could be a serial killer or orchestrated violence targeting the community. They do not feel protected on their own streets," said Gina Duncan. "By misgendering these transgender women, the JSO disrespects their memory and impedes their own investigations. These are out, trans women and that is how they are known in the community. All across the nation, law enforcement agencies have adopted protocols for responding to anti-transgender violence. They recognize that respecting the community builds trust and creates a willingness to share information that may catch a killer."
Concerned citizens are encouraged to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at ( 904 ) 630-2133 or attend and speak out against these murders and the way they are being handled by JSO at the Jacksonville City Council Meeting on Tuesday, June 26th at 5:00PM.
Kelly Pope of the Jacksonville Transgender Action Committee responded to the horrific attacks stating, "During national pride month, when others are out celebrating, our community is grieving. In fact, we are not just grieving. We are actively fearful for our own lives. We need all eyes on Jacksonville right now."