NCAVP mourns the death of Melvin “Lee” Mecker, a 58-year-old white cisgender gay man in Kansas City, MO

NCAVP mourns the death of Melvin “Lee” Mecker, a 58-year old-white cisgender gay man in Kansas City, MO, who passed on April 10, 2019 due to an explosive fire in his home.  Mecker was the owner of Buddies, a beloved local bar in Kansas City. Mourning friends commented, “If you needed a hand out and he could do it, he would do it for you. He was a really great guy,” and “Lee is the type of person who didn’t turn his back on folks. He sees the good in everybody and he tried. ”

According to local media, Mecker reported experiences of intimate partner violence to the police on more than one occasion. After months of investigation, police ruled Mecker’s death a homicide, with no current suspects.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP memberIf you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP Mourns the Death of 31-year-old Brian Anderson, a Black gay man in Detroit, MI

NCAVP mourns the death of Brian Anderson, a 31-year-old Black gay man who passed on July 6, 2019, after being targeted by Demetris Nelson (26) through the gay dating app, Grindr. According to media reports, Anderson was an aspiring minister, active member, and praise and worship leader at Steadfast Baptist Church. Friends comment that Anderson had a heart for the poor and sought to make positive change among the youth.

On Twitter, a local church community member says, “The iR.O.C.K Young Adult Family mourn the passing of our kind-hearted and energetic brother Brian Anderson from Detroit, Michigan. Bro. Anderson was a member of the iROCK Praise & Worship Team who always had a distinct way of bonding with others in his section, he will be missed.”

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Letter to New York City and State: #Justice4Layleen Demands

AVP Contact:
Audacia Ray, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy
aray@avp.org, 212-714-1184 x 18

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications
ecruz@avp.org, 212-714-1184 x 26

Dear Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio,

We, the undersigned organizations have come together in response to the tragic death of Layleen Xtravanganza Cubilette-Polanco who died while being held on $500 bail in the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island on June 7, 2019; she is one of 10 Black transgender women to die from individually targeted or state-sanctioned violence so far this year. After the historic commitments made by New York State to end cash bail and New York City to close Rikers Island, her death is unconscionable. Layleen’s death is the result of delayed changes to the criminal legal system and the terrible convergence of city and state carceral policies that disregard the humanity of trans women of color and criminalize their survival.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is currently working closely with Polanco’s family and demand action from both the city and the state so that Polanco’s family can get answers about the circumstances of her death and seek justice, and to ensure that the conditions that led to her death are remedied. We ask you to take immediate steps to see that the following happen.

 

On the city level:

  • The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office must expedite the results of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco’s autopsy. They initially told Layleen’s family they must wait up to 12 weeks for answers about the cause of her death. This is unacceptable for any family.
  • New York City Council must pass Intro No. 1535-A and the Mayor must sign it into law immediately. This local law will establish a task force to review the Department of Correction’s (DOC) policies related to the treatment and housing of transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary (TGNCNB), and intersex individuals in DOC custody.
  • New York City must commit to massive, citywide decarceration that significantly reduces the number of people in jail, divests from incarceration as a solution, and reinvests resources in the Black and Latinx communities most harmed by over-policing and incarceration.
  • In the wake of Polanco’s death, Rikers has reported that it has emptied the women’s solitary unit; it must remain empty until all the jail facilities on Rikers Island are closed. The DOC must stop isolating TGNCNB people in de facto “solitary confinement” while claiming it’s for their own safety. Solitary confinement isn’t just a designated space within a jail, it is the intentional isolation of a person away from general population.

 

On the state level:

  • New York State must pass HALT Solitary Confinement Act to end the torture of solitary confinement, including ceasing the operation of the restrictive housing units where Polanco was detained.
  • New York State’s newly passed bail reform legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2020 but District Attorneys and judges can and should stop setting bail immediately. Polanco would not have been held on bail in 2020, and she should not have been held on bail this year. The State must also go further. Although New York’s elected leaders committed to the complete end of money bail, the legislation passed in April did not eliminate money bail on all charges. New York State must commit to the next stage of bail reform to end money bail and protect pretrial liberty for all people, regardless of charge.
  • New York State must pass legislation that decriminalizes sex work, and must cease operating the court-mandated services of the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, which pose as a compassionate alternative to incarceration but keep survivors of violence court-involved and vulnerable to re-criminalization. Polanco missed court dates as part of this alternative to incarceration and was detained as a result. The provision of services should not be mandated and must not lead to incarceration.

 

Finally, New York City and State must invest significant resources in the health and well-being of trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB)  Black, Latinx, and people of color. This requires a multi-pronged approach, including: funding health care programs and utilizing regulatory power to guarantee affirming care related both to medical transition and all care unrelated to transition; creation of housing that is safe and affordable for TGNCNB people; employment programs for TGNCNB people of all ages, and other economic justice programs.

Addressing the needs of Black, Latinx, and people of color TGNCNB communities is an ongoing conversation that has to center their voices. We hope that the Mayor’s Office and the Governor’s Office will schedule meetings with impacted communities in order to move forward on more inclusive policy and legislation

Signed,

The New York City Anti-Violence Project

GMHC

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Association of Legal Aid Attorneys LGBTQ Caucus

The Bronx Defenders

Queeramisu

The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center

The Legal Aid Society

Transgender Law Center

Make the Road New York

VOCAL-NY

Peter Cicchino Youth Project (PCYP) of the Urban Justice Center

Girls for Gender Equity

Desis Rising Up & Moving

ACT UP NY

BiNet USA

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

JustLeadershipUSA

Global Action Youth Project

GLAAD

The LGBT Community Center

NYC Jails Action Committee

Center for Constitutional Rights

Brooklyn Defender Services

Decrim NY

Black & Pink

 

NCAVP mourns the death of Brooklyn Lindsey, a 32-year-old Black trans woman in Kansas City, MO

NCAVP mourns the death of Brooklyn Lindsey, a 32-year-old Black trans woman, who was found dead Tuesday morning on June 25, 2019.  According to media reports, police found Brooklyn’s body at an abandoned home in Kansas City, MO, where neighbors reported they heard arguing and possibly gunshots at 2:30 AM.  Brooklyn’s death is being investigated as a homicide.

A representative from NCAVP member Kansas City Anti-Violence Project shared, “Today, June 25th, 2019, another black trans woman was found murdered in Kansas City, MO! We are saddened, but mostly angered by the continued violence against our sisters!”

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of 23-year-old Zoe Spears, a Black trans woman in Fairmount Heights, MD

NCAVP mourns the death of 23-year-old Zoe Spears, a Black trans woman in Fairmount Heights, MD. Spears is the second trans woman to be killed in the area this year. According to local reports, friends remember her for her independent spirit and love for life. Spears lived independently and dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

Police have arrested a man in connection with the murder. Investigation is ongoing and charges are forthcoming.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP memberIf you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

AVP Demands Justice for Layleen Polanco

On Monday afternoon, AVP mobilized over 600 people at Foley Square to mourn the loss of, and demand justice for, Layleen Cubilette-Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Latinx transgender woman who was found dead in her cell at Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers on June 7, just eleven days before her next scheduled court date.

The news of Layleen Polanco’s death is particularly hard as it comes during a string of reported deaths of trans women of color. Whether the result of racist and transphobic hate violence, violence from a partner or date, or from neglect and abuse in ICE detention, these deaths highlight an epidemic of violence against trans women of color, particularly impacting Black trans women.

We organized the rally to hold the city and the Department of Corrections accountable and to demand the closure of Rikers. Layleen Polanco’s family, including her sister, mother, brother, along with other family members and close friends were in attendance. Layleen Polanco’s sister,

Melania spoke on behalf of the family, sharing her grief and anger over the lack of answers about the untimely death of her sister. Our support of the family and demands for justice continue.

The Anti-Violence Project calls for transparency and a full, and timely, investigation of Layleen Polanco’s death.

For more information on the rally, see some headlines below:

CNN: She was sent to Rikers Island because she couldn’t pay $500 bail. Now, she’s dead

NY Times: After a Transgender Woman’s Death at Rikers, Calls for Justice and Answers

Washington Post: A transgender woman died in her Rikers cell. Now her family is demanding answers.

For direct updates and information about AVP’s work, join our mailing list, here

For future AVP rallies and demonstrations, text ANTIVIOLENCE to 555-888.

NCAVP mourns the death of 23-year-old Chanel Scurlock, a Black trans woman in Lumberton, North Carolina

NCAVP mourns the death of 23-year-old Chanel Scurlock, a Black trans woman who was found dead in Lumberton, North Carolina, just after midnight on Wednesday June 5th.  Chanel died from a gunshot wound.

“RIP baby,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “Chanel Scurlock You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP Mourns the Death of 28-year-old Ronald ‘Trey’ Peters III, a white gay man in Atlanta, GA

NCAVP mourns the death of Ronald ‘Trey’ Peters III, a 28-year-old gay man who died from a gunshot wound on June 4th in Atlanta, GA. Media reports say, ‘The fatal shooting happened about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Peters was on his way to the MARTA station before work, his partner told police. Multiple witnesses said that as Peters walked down the roadway, two men got out of a truck and put on masks, the report said. The men told Peters to hand over his bag, a witness said. The incident report indicates one of the men then called Peters an anti-gay slur.”

Peters was a beloved social worker, living in Decatur, GA. According to a family obituary, Peters is survived by his parents, grandfather, brother, and partner. A friend writes of him, “Trey always included me and made me feel like part of the group in the JSU drama department. Performing with him in “Death by Darkness” was a highlight of my time there. His and presence were a gift to everyone who knew him.” Condolences may be offered to the Peters family online at www.kilgroefh.com Kilgroe Funeral Home – Pell City.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP memberIf you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of 32-year-old Evan Grabelsky, a white cisgender gay man in Long Island, NY

NCAVP mourns the death of 32-year-old Evan Grabelsky, a white cisgender gay man in Long Island, NY, whose life was lost to intimate partner violence, Saturday, June 1, 2019. According to reports, Evan was active as a children’s camp counselor and special education paraprofessional. Nassau County Police anticipate that 21-year-old Ryan Lindquist, of Massapequa, will face charges of second degree murder for the stabbing that caused his death.

NCAVP’s latest report, issued earlier this year, Hate Violence and Intimate Partner Violence in LGBTQ and HIV-affected Communities in 2017 highlights LGBTQ people’s risk for severe and fatal intimate partner violence, as well as hate violence.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against and within our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Chynal Lindsey, a 26-year-old Black trans woman, in Grand Prairie, Texas

NCAVP mourns the death of Chynal Lindsey, a 26-year-old Black trans woman, whose body was found on May 31, 2019. According to media reports, Ruben Alvarado, 22, has been arrested in connection with her death. Chynal lived in Grand Prairie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and was a native of Chicago, who worked in home health care.  Chynal is at least the fourth Black transgender woman to be killed in Dallas in less than four years.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.