Three transgender women of color have been murdered in Jacksonville, Florida this year, leaving community members worried someone might be targeting them.
Cathalina Christina James, 24, is the most recent victim, found deceased from gunshot wounds at a hotel on June 24.
Cathalina Christina James, a trans woman of color in her 20s, has been killed in Jacksonville, FL. Violence against transgender people, especially trans women of color, must stop. https://t.co/9NtNsvCRRU pic.twitter.com/dd1bW53I1a
— GLAAD (@glaad) June 28, 2018
Earlier this month, 38-year-old Antash’a English was shot while she stood between two abandoned buildings, dying at the hospital.
Antash’a Devine Sherrington English, a 38-year-old black trans woman, has been killed in Jacksonville, Florida. English was a beloved performer at a Riverside nightclub, InCahoots. Friends describe her as “an unapologetic, bold and loyal person.” https://t.co/9NtNsvCRRU pic.twitter.com/XVGyLIxBIR
— GLAAD (@glaad) June 5, 2018
Back in February, 36-year-old Celine Walker was shot to death in a hotel room.
Celine Walker, a 36-year-old trans woman of color, was killed in Jacksonville, Flordia and misgendered by police and local media. Friends and advocates worked to ensure that her story was told.https://t.co/9NtNsvCRRU pic.twitter.com/1cTZqpYsjs
— GLAAD (@glaad) February 9, 2018
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has released a statement saying it has no reason to believe the cases, which it is investigating separately, are related at this point. But the community isn’t so sure.
“The transgender community in Jacksonville is frightened,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s Director of Transgender Equality and Chair of TransAction Florida, said in a statement. “They fear this could be a serial killer or orchestrated violence targeting the community. They do not feel protected on their own streets.”
Duncan also criticized police for misgendering the women, saying it is undermining the investigations by doing so, adding, “These are out, trans women and that is how they are known in the community.”
A fourth transgender woman was shot in the Florida city and survived, but it is believed to have been a domestic dispute that is not connected to any of the killings.
Concerned citizens spoke at the Jacksonville City Council meeting on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday the Jacksonville Transgender Action Committee organized a rally calling on police to protect the lives of transgender people.
“We are here so we can get justice for these girls who have been murdered, transgender women of color,” Jacksonville Transgender Awareness Project director Paige Mahogany Parks told The Florida-Times Union. “The police will do whatever they want to do but we are not going to be intimidated. Let’s pray this makes a difference.”
“The transgender community feels like there’s a target on their backs,” Parks told NBC. “We don’t feel safe in Jacksonville.”
Parks also addressed the city council on June 12, alleging that authorities were “sitting on these crimes, and they’re not doing anything with the cases.”
So far, no one has been arrested for any of the killings.
At least 13 transgender people have been killed in the United States so far this year alone.