AVP Demands Sweeping Changes to NYC Jail Systems, Closure of Rikers, and for Permanent End to Solitary Confinement 

Contact: Audacia Ray, New York City Anti-Violence Project, aray@avp.org

Esais Johnson, a young gay Black man with autism, died at Rikers Island last week after he languished a month in the jail. The Department of Corrections failed to deliver him to three separate court hearings, preventing him from paying his $1 bail. Johnson is the tenth person in Department of Corrections custody that has died in the jail system since December 2020, a huge spike over the previous two years, according to the Daily News

AVP’s Executive Director, Beverly Tillery stated, “Rikers is a death trap. We have been sounding the alarm about the dangers at Rikers for several years now but despite pledges to close the facility, City officials continue to drag their feet, leaving thousands of New Yorkers in peril. Esais Johnson and Layleen Polanco should have been released on bail, but instead were left to languish at Rikers for weeks with no end in sight. LGBTQ people, especially those who are transgender, gender nonconforming, non-binary, and people of color, face severe criminalization and violence from police, and then when incarcerated, experience homophobic or transphobic violence from other incarcerated people and/or guards. We appreciate the legislators who demanded to tour Rikers this week and exposed the extent of the horrific conditions. Now, we need swift and definitive action to protect those we have put in grave danger.”

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) stands with LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of state violence and the loved ones of those who have died due to confinement in city jails, including deaths caused by self-harm and/or suicide. As New York City’s leading LGBTQ anti-violence organization, AVP demands that the City expedite the plan to close Rikers. Unsafe, overcrowded, and unsanitary conditions at Rikers are at crisis levels, as the jail population has doubled since July 2020. The Chief Medical Officer at the complex recently stated that he does “not believe the City is capable of safely managing the custody of those it is charged with incarcerating in its jails,” as reported by NY1

In this chaos, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people and people affected by HIV are especially vulnerable. In addition to elevated rates of violence from other incarcerated people and guards, our community’s basic human needs are not being met.  Elected officials touring the facility have reported seeing a transgender woman placed in “male” facilities, without appropriate medical care, including hormone treatment, and incarcerated people living with HIV deprived of life-saving medication.  

AVP joins the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (NYC AIC) and the Jails Action Coalition to call for a permanent end to solitary confinement. Conditions are even more dangerous in the City’s restrictive housing units and solitary confinement cells, whose solid cell doors make ventilation extremely difficult and make it harder for staff to see if someone is in medical duress.  AVP has been calling for the end of solitary since the death of Layleen Polanco in 2019, an Afro-Latinx trans woman who died after not receiving needed medical intervention in the City’s punitive segregation system which is commonly known as solitary confinement. In addition, AVP asserts that “protective custody” is in fact isolative punishment and not a way to keep LGBTQ people safe in jails and prisons. While there is currently legislation in the City Council aimed at ending this practice, the Council has not made the necessary amendments or progressed this bill. As the legislation stalls, many New Yorkers remain subjected to isolative torture in city jails. The practice of isolation as punishment needs to be ended immediately.

 

40 Change Makers: Tom Duane

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity.

Tom Duane was the first openly gay and openly HIV+ member of the New York Senate and has been integral to legislative reform in the state to better protect LGBTQ+ and HIV-affected people. A former AVP board member and hate violence survivor, Tom’s legacy includes sponsorship of same-sex marriage legislation and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in New York State, as well as the passage of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act.

Here, Tom shares how his participation in Chelsea’s Gay Association led to the founding of the NYC Anti-Violence Project, justice reform, and the importance of mental health support for service providers and clinicians.

How did you first get involved with The Anti-Violence Project (AVP)?

Even before there was an AVP, there was a spark that I think ignited things that created the space for AVP to be developed. I was a member of something called the Chelsea Gay Association, which was the first neighborhood-based gay organization. At the time it seemed almost radical. It was 1977. There were a lot of gay male bars along the waterfront in the teens and the twenties along the West Side Highway. There was a New York City Housing Authority development in Chelsea called Fulton Houses. And the young people there, men, were beating up gay men as they walked towards the bars.

I created a forum where we invited the president of the Fulton Houses Tenant Association to come, Helen Gilson. She came to the forum and she heard some of the stories of what had happened, and towards the end of the forum she stood up, she was obviously touched by this, moved by it. She said, “Well, you’re not my cup of tea, but I don’t think you should be beaten up.” Which was a huge victory in so many ways. Then, she put out the word, “Stop it.” The violence stopped.

As a result of that, there were some people in the Chelsea Gay Association who started sort of an anti-crime thing that was both gay and non-gay in Chelsea. It was really out of that that the Anti-Violence Project was born.   It was really very much needed. I knew of people who had been the victims of violent attacks, and I even knew gay men who had been sexually assaulted. The need absolutely was there.

So from the very beginning, I supported AVP. It was probably in many ways, for me, the most important LGBTQ organization.

In 1983, I went to visit my parents, and I was in the parking lot of a gay bar, and a car pulled up and two guys jumped out and called me anti-gay slurs, and I knew it was like, “Ugh, I’m in trouble here.”  Sure enough, they started to kick me and punch me.  I just protected my head and started to yell for help.  Finally, someone came out of the bar, and they scattered. Fortunately, nothing was broken, but I was really bruised up and in pain. I reported it to the police, and maybe two weeks later I called to ask about my case and they told me, “Oh, it’s over. They pled out to a misdemeanor.” I didn’t get to confront them.  It wasn’t even that they pled to a misdemeanor. That would have been okay with me. I would’ve liked them to say that they knew what they’d done was wrong, but really what I objected to is that it didn’t count.

That was not the only time. That was just the worst time. The AIDS crisis hit, and that was another reason that people felt entitled to beat up gay people. I had someone throw a full bottle of beer at me, just missing my head. I had another time, a guy just smashed my face. I was wearing my glasses, broke my glasses, cut under my eye. That doesn’t even cover the verbal harassment–you don’t know when someone is yelling some anti-gay epithet at you whether it’s going to turn into violence or not. That needs to be reported–that it’s happening and where it’s happening, and where resources should go to make safer places for people. 

The thing about violence against gay people is that there was no one collecting any data on it. I became very vocal that we needed to pass what was to become hate crimes legislation, but especially to document what happens to queer people, Latinx people, people of color, Jewish people, women when there’s a bias-related crime. We need to have data because you can’t fight something if you don’t have the data to really go at it.

Eventually, I ran for office, I ran for the city council, and I did whatever I could there. Then, in 1998, the State Senate seat that included my council district became available, and I ran for it. People said, “Oh, why would you ever want to be a minority Senator? You can’t get anything done.” I thought to myself, “If you think you can’t get anything done, you won’t get anything done. I’m going to get stuff done.” In my first term, I made a speech on the floor. Telling my story on the floor of the Senate, it changed minds. There was a Republican Senator from Staten Island who said, “We have to do something about this.” The next year,  the Senate passed hate crimes legislation.

How did you come to be a part of AVP’s Board?

I went to one of the AVP events and Sharon Stapel, who was the Executive Director, was kind of standing by the elevator when I got off and we talked for a minute, and then she said, “Would you join our board?” I was like, “I’m going to join one LGBTQ organization and I’m going to do one non-gay organization.”, I said “Yes” to Sharon. I was very thrilled to be on board.

What do you want to see AVP accomplish in the next 40 years?

I want it to go out of business. I want there to not be a need. A boy can dream. I would like it to be funded in a way that whoever is the Executive Director, whoever the board members are, they don’t always have to be worried if there’s going to be enough money to keep providing the services. They raise money and they spend it all, and then the next year they may not have as much and that’s rough. Everyone takes pay cuts. You know what I mean? I would like it to be that there’s enough money that comes in all the time. Because again, the people who work at AVP to a person are just wonderful people. 

Also, the people who work at AVP every day, day in and day out, they deal with very, very difficult situations, and many of them don’t work out very well. I’d like to be able to permanently have some place for them to go to right there. Being a witness is very, very negatively impactful on people. I would like to be able to institutionally make sure that the staff are taken care of emotionally and in any other way that they need help. I want to make sure that there’s cash flow for them to do what needs to be done.

AVP Calls for Governor Cuomo’s Resignation

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) stands shoulder to shoulder with the survivors who have bravely come forward to report their experiences of sexual harassment and violence at the hands of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We join the growing number of New Yorkers and others calling for the Governor’s resignation, in light of the scathing report released on Monday by New York Attorney General, Letitia James.

The report from independent investigators appointed by Attorney General James concluded that Governor Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment against multiple people, including former and current State employees and others outside of State government. James said Tuesday that her investigation found that Cuomo engaged in “unwelcome and non-consensual touching,” and made comments of a “suggestive” sexual nature. James said that the conduct created a “hostile work environment for women.”

AVP also commends Attorney General James and the investigators who worked so diligently to bring this violence to light. At AVP, we work directly with hundreds of survivors of sexual harassment and violence every year who are often disbelieved and demonized.

AVP condemns all incidents of sexual violence, including sexual harassment in the workplace. As the largest LGBTQ-specific anti-violence organization in the country and New York State’s only LGBTQ-specific rape crisis provider, we recognize that sexual violence impacts all communities and that we must continue to fight to prevent it at every level of society, especially in our highest offices of power. And when sexual violence occurs, we must demand accountability and a commitment to changing the conditions that led to the violence.

We are dismayed and angered by the Governor’s continued dismissal of the survivors’ experiences, claiming that “they heard things I just did not say,” ignoring the seriousness of his actions by characterizing them as “everyday interactions” and “meant to convey warmth and nothing more.” This is another critical moment for our society. We need to send a clear message about the necessity of consent and bodily autonomy for all people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. We must listen to and believe survivors.

AVP’s Executive Director, Beverly Tillery, who serves on the New York City Commission on Gender Equity and the New York State Commission on Women and Girls’ Steering Committee, shares: “In view of this damning report, it is time for Governor Cuomo to step down. It is clear he must stand aside so that New York can take real steps to support survivors of violence and help end sexual harassment and gender-based violence in our state. We are moved by the survivors’ vulnerability as they have their stories shared with the world. At AVP, we believe it is imperative that we listen, trust, and honor their courage. Standing up against all forms of violence is key to preventing further violence.”

AVP understands that reports such as these can be difficult for survivors and others in our community to hear. As always, AVP is here for members of the LGBTQ community who may be traumatized or triggered by these news stories.

If you have experienced or witnessed violence, or need support, you can always reach out to our 24/7 bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 or report violence online.

 

AVP’s Cops Out of Pride + Pride Safety FAQs

Click each question below to learn more about AVP’s vision for community safety at Pride.


AVP’s Vision for Community Safety at Pride

This year, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is excited to launch Cops Out of Pride, our campaign to remove the presence of the NYPD from Pride celebrations in New York City. AVP works to end all forms of violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people, including police violence. Forty years ago, AVP was founded because members of our community were being attacked, and when they went to the police, they experienced indifference and more violence. AVP’s founders knew we had to build safety together on our own. Our Cops Out Pride campaign represents a piece of our work to support LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence who seek care outside of policing. We believe that our LGBTQ and HIV-affected community members can work together to build safety, and we know that policing and criminalization do not keep our community safe. We aim to start by advocating that resources be shifted away from the NYPD and towards community-based solutions.

The NYPD has a long history of harassing, arresting, and being violent toward members of the LGBTQ and HIV-affected community. Though anti-LGBTQ violence can and does happen at the individual and interpersonal level, police violence is systemic– perpetuated by an institution that holds power. The police’s violence and targeting have particularly harmed LGBTQ people in Black communities, indigenous communities, and undocumented immigrant communities, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people. During Pride month in 2019 and 2020, AVP’s hotline saw a spike in reports of police violence against LGBTQ people. Reports of police violence in June 2020 represented 24% of police violence incidents for the year. A study recently released by the Williams Institute found that LGBQ people are six times more likely to be stopped by the police in a public place than are non-LGBQ people.

AVP has learned a lot in our forty years of supporting LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors in healing, safety-planning, and building power to prevent violence. In our early years, we pushed for the NYPD to be more involved by responding to and actively prosecuting acts of violence against community members. Additionally, we have been active members of the Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) coalition. However, in all that time, despite our best efforts, the NYPD has persisted as a source of violence and harassment for LGBTQ and HIV-affected people.

In 2019, during the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, then-Police Commissioner, James O’Neil, publicly apologized for the NYPD’s role in the violence on that day in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, stating, “The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple. The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize. I vow to the LGBTQ community that this would never happen in NYPD 2019.” However, in June 2020, protesters marching in the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives were attacked by police and pushed, beaten, and pepper-sprayed toward the end of the march in Washington Square Park.

This year, as we kick off our Cops Out of Pride campaign, we are starting to raise awareness of these issues and engaging in difficult conversations within our LGBTQ communities. AVP believes that the police should be removed from Pride so that our community can make new ways forward toward safety. We know LGBTQ and HIV-affected people do not have unified opinions about this issue. We are looking forward to the process of engaging with our community, learning together, and working together so that LGBTQ people do not experience this violence. To this end, we are putting forth our vision for how we can make Pride safe for everyone without a police presence and challenge Heritage of Pride (HOP, the organization that produces NYC Pride), the Mayor, and City Council to work with our community to take the following steps:

  1. Remove NYPD presence at the in-person Pride Parade and remove the NYPD from all digital and print Pride materials and celebrations. The NYPD should not be the city agency tasked with traffic control and permitting for Pride events. Furthermore, NYPD should not be celebrated at Pride. Pride events should not be a recruiting space for the NYPD or other carceral agencies. The city can, and should, move the permit process from the NYPD to a non-police agency like the Department of Transportation. The city should invest in a non-police, unarmed, well-trained, and prepared community safety team based on peer-support models. Substituting private security for the NYPD does not reduce the harms of interactions with law enforcement. Private security firms often hire former or off-duty police officers and are even less accountable to communities than police forces.
  2. Divest from NYPD as first responders. The City should ensure that NYPD are not the first responders at Pride or in the community when there is a mental or physical health emergency. As an organization that is a leading member of the NYC Against Hate coalition and a long-time member of Communities United for Police Reform, we advocate for safety models that are not reliant on law enforcement or incarceration, but rooted in solutions that center community. The Dyke March, Drag March, Folsom Street East, and more have rejected police involvement and have worked with community members as marshals for the entirety of their histories, while the Audre Lorde Project’s Safe Outside the System project creates community safety. These are models that could be scaled up for HOP’s Pride March.
  3. #DefundNYPD and reinvest in resources that create safety. AVP, alongside 200 other organizations that make up Communities United for Police Reform, pushes for police transparency and accountability through community education and legislation. We also specifically call the City to #DefundVICE as a part of this larger goal of police divestment. The City must reinvest that funding in the programs and services that community members consistently tell us they need to be safe, such as health care, housing, education, and workforce development programs that affirm LGBTQ and HIV-affected people’s sexuality and gender identities.
  4. Shift resources, funding, and support to Black and LGBTQ-led community-based organizations and groups that provide alternatives for safety. Black and LGBTQ activists, individuals, community-based organizations, and groups have been providing and maintaining safety for their communities outside of the police for many decades. As hate violence and police violence escalate, exacerbated by the pandemic, these groups are crucial in providing crisis support and resisting state violence, including police violence. These groups need to be funded and supported to sustain their work. HOP committed to distributing 30% of its Pride Gives Back program to trans and nonbinary-owned, Womxn-owned, and BIPOC nonprofits and initiatives for the next 5 five years. We believe that HOP should distribute 70% of its program to these groups instead.

AVP is here to support you in exploring and learning options for your safety by creating a safety plan. If you need help, call our 24/7 English/Spanish hotline at 212-714-1141 or click here. If you are a member of our community and want to engage in conversations with AVP staff and community members about this campaign, you can also email us at community@avp.org.

AVP SELECTED AS LGBTQ ANCHOR IN “PARTNERS AGAINST THE HATE” INITIATIVE

Contact: Audacia Ray, New York City Anti-Violence Project, aray@avp.org

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is proud to be the LGBTQ anchor organization in the new Partners Against The Hate (P.A.T.H. FORWARD) initiative to prevent hate violence against vulnerable communities in New York City. In a year marked by increased hate violence, especially against LGBTQ people of color, the investment in AVP and other community based organizations working to prevent hate violence is a significant step toward creating community safety, instead of criminalization.

The P.A.T.H. Forward funding initiative is an important step in providing communities’ more resources to prevent and respond to violence without relying on policing and prosecution, which many survivors of violence are unable to access. Beverly Tillery, AVP’s Executive Director, shares “This is a crucial time for our LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities. At AVP we have been responding to hate violence for over 40 years. We know that the best way forward is for communities to be resourced to run community-based solutions that support survivors in building safety outside of criminal legal system responses.”

With this funding, AVP will be able to deepen our rapid incident response to support communities and survivors, continue community-based data collection and reporting through our hotline, offer bystander intervention training, and provide additional survivor services and support in the aftermath of violence. The funds will also enable us to resource LGBTQ partner organizations and expand our collaborations with them.

AVP continues to advocate for resources to build safety for our communities, which must be accomplished by shifting funding away from policing, prosecution, and jails and toward community based organizations, housing, health care, education, and food security. In 2019, AVP successfully advocated for the creation of the Hate Crimes Prevention Initiative which allocated $1.1 million of funding for community-based organizations doing hate violence prevention work citywide and across many communities, but was cut completely in 2020 due to the City’s austerity budget cuts.

AVP is the largest LGBTQ-specific anti-violence organization in the country, operates a free and confidential 24/7 bilingual hotline to support survivors of violence, and is one of the founding organizations of the NYC Against Hate Coalition, along with the Arab American Association of NY, which is also an anchor organization receiving funds from this initiative.

AVP appreciates the work of the Mayor’s Office of Hate Crimes Prevention to advocate for and direct funding to innovative, community-based, survivor-centered responses to hate violence.

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NCAVP mourns the death of Natalia Smüt, a 24-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman in San Jose, CA

NCAVP mourns the death of Natalia Smüt, a 24-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman who was murdered by her partner on April 23 in San Jose, CA. Shortly after harming Natalia, boyfriend Elijah Cruz Segura contacted the police for help, where he confessed to injuring her. Despite attention from paramedics and firemen on scene, Natalia died shortly after being transported to the hospital.

Natalia was a drag performer and artist of Puerto Rican descent. Her Instagram indicates that she was also a rapper, and belonged to the Haus of Smut. Several loved ones are commenting on recent posts by Natalia, mourning her loss. They write “you deserved so much more,” and “We’re gonna make sure you get justice.” One friend, Kaira Ohlde, has organized a GoFundMe on Natalia’s behalf, to raise money for funeral services and her family – specifically her older sister Vanessa Singh. On Twitter, someone named Cindy Campbell has posted a thread honoring  Natalia’s life – her work as a “fire cracker” performer, how she put Cindy in drag for the first time, and ultimately mourning that Natalia was “taken too soon.” 

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown 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 Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, a 43-year-old transgender woman in Boston, MA

NCAVP mourns the death of Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, a legendary transgender activist and ballroom performer, who was murdered on May 2nd in Boston, MA. 

A member of the House of Balenciaga, Jahaira was known for her success in walking in the category of realness in the late 90’s, as well as for her work in advocating for survivors of domestic abuse. On Facebook, Robert Harold Dinkins writes: “The House of Balenciaga regretfully acknowledges the death/murder of our own Jahaira M. DeAlto, a community advocate and friend to many. Let us not forget her ongoing work against domestic abuse and continue to uplift her name and ensure her memory lives on in this ironic twist of fate.” Several community members have taken to social media to revere Jahaira, including trans actress and recording artist Trace Lysette: “Rest in power sister Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga 💔  she was the kindest sister, mother, aunty, friend. A ballroom legend. And we want justice.”

An activist since 1995, Jahaira’s work has brought her to the Ryan White Conference on HIV/AIDS at Harvard University, Columbia University’s School of Social Work, and the Berkshire’s first-ever Trans Day of Remembrance event, where she was the emcee and a featured speaker. She graduated from Berkshire Community College in 2019 for Human Services. She was also a successful vlogger on YouTube, where she had over 2,400 subscribers.

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 Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx twospirited transgender woman in Houston, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx twospirited transgender woman who was fatally shot on April 23 in Houston, Texas. The suspect attacked Iris outside of a Chick-Fil-A and fled, both his whereabouts and whether the shooting was an act of hate violence remain unknown.

Iris worked as a tarot/oracle reader, and used her Instagram as a platform for bookings, as well as to share what mattered to her with her followers, including commemorating the guilty verdict surrounding the George Floyd case, stats on reduced likelihood of trans suicide for kids whose pronouons are respected, and a graphic that simply states: Sex Work is Work. Iris’ mother, Maria Carreon, told local news station ABC13 “She was a beautiful soul. She was a wonderful person. She [was] always trying to help people, and even when she doesn’t have nothing, she always gives.” Her sister, Louvier, added “We just hope that no one has to go through this again, because it’s awful.” Louvier has also set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for funeral expenses.

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 Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman in Brooklyn, NY

NCAVP mourns the death of Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman who was fatally shot by her ex-girlfriend on April 21st in Brooklyn, NY. After the attack, which occurred just outside a Park Slope deli, Nichelle was quickly rushed to the hospital by authorities, where she was later pronounced dead. 

The attacker, Latisha Bell, was in a tumultuous relationship with Nichelle for “two decades.” They had been broken up for a few years, and those close to Nichelle report that Latisha had recently reentered her life before the shooting. Latisha turned herself in to the police and confessed to the killing merely hours after it happened – she is now facing charges of murder and weapon possession. In a court hearing, Brooklyn DA Wilfredo Cotto detailed the abusive and volatile nature of Nichelle and Latisha’s relationship, citing 13 domestic incident reports – 10 of which Latisha was the aggressor. Neighbors report that when the couple lived together, they’d fight often, ““Furniture was broken, pictures were broken … “they had disputes and fights on the regular, they did.”

A mother of two children, those who knew Nichelle are mourning her death online. An active member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Rev. Anthony Trufant told NY Daily News, ““She was very, very active, very prominent and much beloved … She is someone who had an open heart and a listening ear and an open mind. She just exuded joy.” On Facebook, a churchgoer wrote: “My heart is truly broken this morning … R.I.P Nichelle Thomas. My Emmanuel Baptist Church sister. I will never understand the heart of cowardice killers. Temples of praise dance ministry wont be the same without you. #Devastated.”

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown 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.