A shrine for two transgender women attacked in Southeast D.C., just two incidents in a string of violent crimes against the transgender community in recent months.
Police in the District are investigating the shooting of a transgender woman that happened early Monday morning in Southeast D.C. It's the latest in a string of violent incidents against members of the transgender community, and transgender rights activists are saying more needs to be done to prevent and solve these cases.
Update: The Metropolitan Police Department has made arrest in conjunction with Monday's shooting, according to a statement. Police have charged 20-year-old Darryl Willard of Northeast with assault with intent to kill while armed.
Since the July 20 murder of Lashay McLean, there have a been a number of reported robberies and shootings against transgender women. The incident Sept. 12 involved a victim that was shot in the neck, but managed to drive to a police station to seek help. She is expected to survive.
At a press conference Monday, Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said none of the attacks appear to be related.
"Unfortunately members of the transgender community are victims of crimes on an all too frequent basis in the city, I think those have received a little bit more attention over the last couple of days," says Newsham.
Meanwhile, he says police are investigating the death of an unidentified man who was found wearing make-up and carrying high heels. The body was found last weekend on a sidewalk near 11th and Fairmont streets in Northwest D.C. Police have not been able to identify the man or the cause of his death.
The incidents have led transgender rights activists to complain that police have not devoted the same time and energy to solving crimes involving transgender victims as they do for others.
Assistant Chief Newsham disputes that claim, insisting that all crime victims are treated equally.
"The troubling part, from the Metropolitan Police Department perspective, is the feeling in the transgender community that they are getting less police service than they deserve," Newsham says.
Long-time transgender rights activist Earline Budd puts it more bluntly.
"Folks feel like, 'I can rob a transgender woman and kill, shoot, or harm her and at the end of the day, I am not gonna suffer any consequences,'" she says.
Budd says there have been a number of murders over the past decade involving transgender women that remain unsolved. She highlights the 2009 murder of "NanaBoo" Mack, a transgender woman stabbed to death in broad daylight.
"Her attacker made comments to her, followed them for seven blocks and then stabbed her to death at 2 o'clock in daytime. You can't tell some of those folks don't know nothing," she says. "And they do, but we got to be aggressive, and get out out there and knock on doors and I bet somebody at this time will say something."
Another activist in the transgender community, Ruby Corado, has seen the violence escalate over the years. She says attacks often start with verbal abuse that, if left unchecked, only gets worse.
"Then the next thing is you become a target, your property is taken away from you, you're beaten because there is this perception you are not as valuable as the rest of society," she says. "And then the tip of the iceberg, you get killed."
Police say they investigate every crime and treat every victim the same way. Top MPD officials have been meeting with Budd, Corado, and other transgender rights advocates every couple of weeks to improve the relationship since McLean's death.