The Work Continues: Demands for NYC Mayor and NYPD

Trigger Warning: mentions of fatal police violence

Many of us breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday when Derek Chauvin was convicted of all charges for the killing of Goerge Floyd. For some of us, the verdict comes with the hope that perhaps this signals a move forward in our collective work to hold law enforcement accountable for the deadly violence they perpetrate against Black and brown people. But even with our relief, we know there is so much more work to do to fully address and end police violence.

Tuesday, a ProPublica article revealed that after an internal investigation, the NYPD found “no wrongdoing” in the killing of Kawaski Trawick, a 32-year-old queer Black man who was shot and killed by NYPD in his own home on April 14th, 2019. On that day, Kawaski had likely experienced a mental health crisis after being locked out of his apartment. Police arrived on the scene after Kawaski had already been assisted by firefighters, and had safely and quietly returned to his apartment, where he was cooking. Instead of realizing there was no longer a disturbance or threat, police officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis broke the chain to Kawaski’s front door, and after finding him at his stove with a knife, tased, then shot and killed Kawski–all within 112 seconds of their arrival on the scene. For two years, there has been no accountability for Kawaski’s shooting from the NYPD. Neither of the officers have been disciplined, and the Bronx District Attorney has refused to prosecute.

Even as we breathe a brief sigh of relief after the verdict in the murder of George Floyd, we continue demanding accountability for Kawaski Trawick and all of the other victims of deadly police violence in our city and across the country. As an organization that centers LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities and aims to end all forms of violence and as a member of Communities United for Police Reform, we stand with our partners and Kawaski’s family in calling on the Civilian Complaint Review Board to hold a disciplinary trial. We demand accountability from Mayor DeBlasio and the firing of the officers involved in Kawaski’s shooting. AVP and our partners will not stop on until we are all safe and free.

Celebrating the AVP Union

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is pleased to announce that on Thursday, April 8, AVP’s management voluntarily recognized a staff union.

Dear Community,

AVP’s non-management staff is now represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153. The management and board of AVP wholeheartedly support the union and are looking forward to partnering with all staff as we negotiate a union contract and continue to make AVP not only a leader in our work with and for survivors of violence but a premier non-profit workplace.

In the past few years, we have all seen unionization efforts and various other internal conflicts tear apart some of our sister organizations in the LGBTQ community and the larger social justice movement. We know that the times when our communities are under attack and suffering the most can also be the times when we turn our pain and frustration toward each other. We are clear that in this moment, we must stand together, united in our commitment to make AVP stronger than ever— for our clients and community members, as well as for our staff.

Even before our staff unionized, our management team and board were clear and communicated to staff that we would embrace a staff union if the staff chose to form one. We stand together in the belief that a staff union is not a threat but will play an important role in giving workers a more collective, proactive voice and role in our organization’s decision-making processes.

This last year has been tumultuous in more ways than we can describe. It has also been a catalyst for change. This is another opportunity for all of us at AVP to live out our core values and intention to create an anti-oppressive, survivor-centered workplace that serves and works with our clients and community members to build safety and equity.

As a former union member, union organizer, and avid labor supporter, I appreciate the effort it takes to organize a union, and I celebrate the staff’s commitment to each other, the communities we serve, and our organization. The management team, board, and I are fully committed to embracing and working with the union. We are proud to be part of a long history of non-profit organizations that have unionized and celebrate the role unions can continue to play in our movement.

In peace and solidarity,

Beverly Tillery

 

NCAVP mourns the death of Aidelen Evans, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman in Port Arthur, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Aidelen Evans, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman who was found dead in a canal in Port Arthur, TX on March 18th. Aidelen’s body was discovered by police, who are now performing a second autopsy by request of her family to determine the cause of death.

Very little is known about the circumstances that led to Aidelen’s passing, and police are asking folks who have information about where Aidelen was last seen or who she was with to contact the Port Arthur Police Department at 409-983-8600 or to contact Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas at 833-TIPS. Police have not yet ruled out hate violence as the cause of death, calling the situation “suspicious” but stating that revealing any more would be “detrimental”. Aidelen was originally from Beaumont, an area 20 miles away from where she was found, which also complicates the case according to police. 

Her family has been searching for answers since the discovery – “It’s hard, it’s really hard. And the only thing you can do is look to God and ask him,” said Aidelen’s grandfather Dexter Balka. Because of the investigation, family members have not been able to provide Aidelen with a proper burial. Aidelen’s grandmother told local news outlet 12 News Now: “This is heartbreaking, I don’t care what nobody has to say. Nobody should have this. Nobody — no parent should have to go through this.”

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 Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latinx transgender woman in Los Angeles

NCAVP mourns the death of Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latinx transgender woman who was fatally struck by a car in Los Angeles on March 17th. Security footage reveals Rayanna was running from a group of harassers, forcing her into oncoming traffic where she was hit. The driver behind the wheel is currently being charged for a DUI.

Her family believes her death was due to hate violence, asserting that Rayanna was forced in front of that car, or even pushed. Still the police have not currently ruled her death a homicide.

TransLatin@ Coalition and Rayanna’s family and friends held a candlelight vigil in her honor, made up of loved ones and strangers who gathered to show support – chanting her name, and sharing stories with each other and local news outlets. Bamby Salcedo, president of the TransLatin@ Coalition told KCAL9 News “Rayanna was such a beautiful young person who just wanted to live her life and be herself.” “I can’t even sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I just picture [her] getting hit by a car, and so I stay awake.” said Monica Pardo, Rayanna’s mother. Her sister Adriana stated that seeing everyone come together in Rayanna’s honor brought her “peace of mind.”

Several folks are mourning Rayanna on social media. “Love you Ray ❤️ will never forget all the memories we made together,” commented one user on a photo of Rayanna. Another commented “your bubbly personality & smile will never be forgotten.”

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 Kim Tova Wirtz, an Asian transgender woman in Baltimore, MD

NCAVP mourns the death of Kim Tova Wirtz, an Asian transgender woman found unresponsive in a prison on February 26 in Baltimore, MD. She was being wrongfully held in a male cell where she was discovered, and then transported to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Very little is known surrounding the details of Kim and her passing, as there are few reports, and police have not refused to release information to Kim’s family without an attorney. There are several routes of action however, including a petition started by Baltimore Safe Haven demanding police release a cause of death. Baltimore Safe Haven is an org that seeks to “provide opportunities for a higher quality of life for TLGBQ people in Baltimore City living in survival mode.” 

Additionally, Kim’s niece has started a GoFundMe to raise money for legal costs, a funeral, and transportation for select family members to assist in burying Kim. Her niece writes “Unfortunately, because of the untimeliness of Kim’s death,  we simply are not equipped to cover the cost and expenses of her arrangements nor legal counsel. Kim’s mom, My grandmother is currently in hospice care in St. Paul Minnesota and is unable to travel to Baltimore to bury her child.” She also states that “Kim has always put others first.”

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 Diamond Kyree Sanders, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman in Cincinnati, OH

NCAVP mourns the death of Diamond Kyree Sanders, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman who suffered a fatal gunshot wound on March 3 in Cincinnati, OH. Police discovered her suffering from the attack in her car, where she was then brought to the hospital and later pronounced dead. 

A substantial obituary posted by her family describes Diamond as a well dressed, family loving woman, who loved to travel. She was “known to be in New York City one week and New Orleans the following.” At her last Thanksgiving with her family, she told them she was thankful that they accepted her for who she was. The obituary details Diamond’s closeness with her family from a young age – she would often say “I love my whole family!” and her upbringing was made up of trips to the Bahamas and Walt Disney World, and weekends with her aunt and grandmother. 

The police are not investigating Diamond’s death as hate violence and use dated and harmful language like “lifestyle” when describing her. Local organizations have spoken out on the problematic nature of the police’s statement – asserting that being transgender is not a “lifestyle,” and that Black trans women face extremely high rates of violence.

An investigation surrounding the attack is ongoing – those with information are asked to call The Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Unit at 531-352-3542. 

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 Jenna Franks, a 34-year-old white transgender woman in Jacksonville, NC

NCAVP mourns the death of Jenna Franks, a 34-year-old white transgender woman whose body was found near a bike trail area in Jacksonville, NC on Febuary 24. Police are currently investigating the death as a homicide.

Much action has been taken by LGBTQ activist groups since Jenna’s death, including a callout post by GLAAD, demanding that news outlets who knowingly misgendered and deadnamed Jenna revise their reporting, and a fund providing support to LGBTQ people experiencing joblessness and homelessness. The fund – titled the Jenna Franks Interim Housing Project – was started by her sister Amber Franks, and the Onslow Community LGBTQ+ Center, where Jenna was a client. “Jenna Franks lived in Jacksonville North Carolina. She was loved by many people in Jacksonville. She was also a transgender woman,” said the director of the center, Dennis Biancuzzo, in a statement to GLAAD. 

On social media, Jenna’s friends and family are mourning her passing. A celebration of life is being held in her honor on April 10th, and a Spotfund has been started to help raise money for funeral costs. “You were an amazing soul,” writes one user. “I love you Jenna Franks with the bottom of my heart,” writes her best friend. 

Police have asked anyone with information surrounding Jenna’s death to contact Det. Kymberly Schott at (910) 938-6414 or kschott@jacksonvillenc.gov, or Crime Stoppers at (910) 938-3273. If calling Crime Stoppers, refer to Case 21-00540.

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 Stands in Solidarity with Asian Communities

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) stands shoulder to shoulder with members of Asian communities across the country who are mourning the eight lives lost in the Atlanta massage parlor shooting on March 16. We condemn the anti-Asian hate violence, which has long persisted in this country and has increased over the past year. As the largest LGBTQ-specific anti-violence organization in the country, we recognize that hate violence impacts all oppressed and marginalized communities and that all of our communities must be united in ending hate violence.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more than 3800 documented acts of hate violence against members of Asian communities across the US, including here in NYC. The fatal shooting last week is a horrific reminder of the ways unchecked xenophobia and misogyny can manifest as deadly violence against Asian people, women, immigrants, and massage workers. As Red Canary Song, a grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers, notes, “whether or not they were actually sex workers or self-identified under that label, we know that as massage workers, they were subjected to sexualized violence stemming from the hatred of sex workers, Asian women, working-class people, and immigrants.”

AVP is one of the founding organizations of the NYC Against Hate Coalition, which successfully advocated for the creation of the Hate Crimes Prevention Initiative in spring 2019. The Initiative provided $1.1 million of funding for community-based organizations doing hate violence prevention work citywide and across many communities. The nine members of the coalition are on the ground and offer immediate, basic, culturally responsive, and affirming services to historically criminalized communities. These organizations came together to build alliances across identities to create community-led and community-centered strategies to prevent hate violence.

We call on New York City, as well as the governments of other cities around the country, to invest in hate violence prevention by supporting vulnerable communities and the organizations that serve them. Standing up against all forms of hate violence and supporting communities with economic resources, housing, health care, and other social supports are key to preventing further violence.

As always, AVP is here for you. If you experience or witness violence, you can always reach out to our 24/7 bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 or report violence online. You can also request a bystander/upstander intervention training here and get direct updates and information about AVP’s work by joining our mailing list here

About New York City Anti-Violence Project: AVP empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy. We envision a world in which all LGBTQ and HIV-affected people are safe, respected, and live free from violence.

NCAVP mourns the death of Jeffrey Bright, a 16-year-old trans man in Beaver County, PA

NCAVP mourns the death of Jeffrey Bright, a 16-year-old trans man who was fatally shot by his mother Krisinda Ann Bright in Beaver County, PA on February 22. His mother called the police on herself shortly after the attack, and turned herself in for the murder of Jeffrey, and his sister Jasmine, whom she shot as well. 

Local LGBTQ+ youth advocacy group PRISM posted in Jeffrey’s honor, noting that he was a “beautiful person with the brightest eyes and smile.” They also commented on the allyship of his sister, who often attended PRISM gatherings with Jeffrey, saying that she was a “sweet, shy, and artistic soul.” Jeffrey’s cousin has been devoted to honoring his name, posting #hisnamewasjeffrey on any social media or news posts that deadname him. The org held a candlelight vigil in Jeffrey’s honor on February 23.

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.

Safety Tips for Survivors of Economic Abuse

In supporting LGBTQ survivors of violence, it’s always important for us to address and affirm the experiences survivors navigate. So what is economic abuse?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, economic abuse involves maintaining control over financial resources, withholding access to money, or attempting to prevent a person from working and/or attending school in an effort to create financial dependence as a means of control. It can be a form of intimate partner violence in LGBTQ relationships.

  1. Put a passcode on your phone.

The easiest thing for you to do is to put a passcode on your phone. Having a passcode will make it harder for someone to pick up your phone to scroll through, access your accounts, or install something malicious. In the event that your phone gets stolen or you lose it, it’ll make it a bit harder for others to get into your phone. Most phones just ask for a 4-digit passcode, but some phones will allow you to use a more complex passcode.

  1. Turn off location sharing.

Most phones have a GPS that can pinpoint your general or exact location. With this capability, many applications may collect and share your location information. However, many smartphones give you the option of managing your location sharing under the “settings.” You can pick and choose which applications may access your location or you can opt to turn off the location setting altogether.  Minimizing the location access can also help increase the battery life on your phone. If your phone doesn’t offer specific location-sharing settings, choose carefully when downloading new apps so you’re not sharing your location unknowingly.

  1. Turn off Bluetooth when not using.

Bluetooth allows your phone to communicate with other devices, such as the hands-free option in your car or your printer. If accessed by someone else though, they could misuse it to access your information or intercept your calls. Turn off the Bluetooth on your phone and turn it on only when you need to connect with other device. Many phones also allow users to set passcodes or additional security levels on their Bluetooth as well. Use all available options to increase your privacy.

  1. Check your privacy & security settings.

Most smartphones have settings that will help you manage your privacy and safety. You can find these controls through the settings on your phone or through the settings of a specific app. These settings may allow you to limit an application’s access to the data on your phone, including access to your location, pictures, contacts, notes, etc. You may even be able to block cookies and limit what data your mobile browser collects.

  1. What online accounts are you automatically logged into?

One of the convenient features of having a smartphone is to quickly access email or social media accounts with just a tap of a finger. However, this also means that you are always connected to accounts that may contain sensitive information. Consider logging out of certain accounts if you can so that others can’t access those accounts if they are using your phone. Keep in mind that depending on the type of phone you have, you might not be able to log out of some accounts, such as email accounts, but may have to remove the entire account from your phone. In this case, make your decision based on your own privacy and safety risk. While it may be inconvenient to access the account through the browser instead, it may be safer.

  1. Review the apps you download.

Know the apps that are on your phone, and if you have an unfamiliar app, delete it. Apps are easy to download and easy to forget, but depending on the app, it could be accessing private information or could be a monitoring program that someone surreptitiously installed.

  1. Put a password on your wireless carrier account to keep others from accessing your account.

If you’re worried that someone might be contacting your wireless carrier to obtain information about you and your account, you can ask your wireless carrier to put additional security on your account, such as a password. Only someone with this password will be allowed to make changes to your account.

  1. Lock down your online phone account.

Keep in mind that even if someone doesn’t have access to your phone, it might be possible for them to access your online account. Online accounts can include your wireless carrier account, call logs, your email or social media accounts, your Google Play/Apple AppStore, or iCloud account. Update the passwords and security questions for those accounts to ensure someone else can’t get access.

  1. Use virtual phone numbers (such as Google Voice) to keep your number private.

To further maximize your privacy, consider using a virtual number, such as Google Voice or a throw away number, so you don’t have to give out your actual phone number. A virtual phone number will also allow you to screen calls and make calls/send texts from the virtual number.

  1. Try not to store sensitive information on your phone.

Finally, although it may be tempting to store information such as passwords, account numbers, or personal information on your phone, the less sensitive information you have, the less likely someone else can access it. You might even want to consider deleting sensitive text messages or voicemails so they’re not stored on your phone.

  1. Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your phone.

After years of warnings, we are fairly used to ensuring we have anti-spyware, anti-malware, and anti-virus programs on our computers. This software should also be used on our smartphones as well. Search for programs in the app stores and discuss them with your wireless provider. Some phones come with built-in software that you won’t want to override.

  1. Take care when using safety apps.

There are many “personal safety apps” available for download that offer to increase the users’ personal safety – immediately connecting them with 911 or select trusted individuals. Several of these apps are designed and marketed specifically to survivors of violence. Before relying on any safety app in an emergency, be sure to test it out with friends and family to be sure that it works correctly for you. Your trusted friend may not receive your location with your emergency call or may not receive your call for help at all. Always know the quickest way to access 911 on your phone in case of an emergency. Many phones have a quick emergency call button that you can even dial without entering the phone’s passcode.