Things That Matter

Say Their Names And See Their Faces: The Black Trans Women Murdered So Far In 2019

This isn’t news to anyone, especially if you’re in the LGBTQ+ community. In a political climate that is trying to erase trans people from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), from the military, and most recently, from protections in homeless shelters, it’s clear the government is not going to help this community in crisis. There’s no question that Black women face higher discrimination than non-Black women of color.

That means it’s on all of us–feministas, poderosas and activists of all kinds–to shine a light on this issue and take action. We honor the women who have been murdered and the women who keep the fight going. Call your representatives. Demand justice. Donate to charities that directly provide resources to trans women.

Instead of highlighting the violence these women endured, we’re highlighting what they did with their lives.

Dana Martin

@Queerty / Twitter

Dana Martin, 31, made headlines as the first transgender woman killed in 2019, and just like that, her 31 years of life were erased. She was found hot dead in her car on Jan. 10. Martin’s best friend told Out magazine that she loved Aaliyah, the movie Friday, and that, “She was a very private, sweet person. Dana didn’t bother nobody, period.”

“[She] never really said [she was trans]. [She] just did it. [She] was gone one day and the next day came and said, ‘This is me,'” another childhood friend recalls. “But all through school, Dana had always looked like a girl, has always been mistaken as a girl. There was never a time when people didn’t ask, ‘Are you a girl or a boy?’ I think it made it easier for [her] to just be like, ‘transgender is my thing.’”

Ashanti Carmon

@MsIsisKing / Twitter

Ashanti Carmon was rejected by her family, and living on the streets by the time she was 16 years old. The trans community looked after her for the next ten years of couch hopping and performing sex work. She had just moved in with her boyfriend and was looking for employment at fast food restaurants to no avail. She was back at the strip many trans women go to for sex worth when a drive-by shooter fatally shot Carmon. She was killed on March 30 while standing on K Street, a stirp in the nation’s capital known for sex workers.

Claire Legato

@hhhhggggghhh / Twitter

Legato, 21, had begun her transition a few years ago. In a Facebook post on March 19, 2017, just two years before her death, she wrote:

“As I wake up everyday.. seeing the woman I’m becoming..👸🏼 I get scared cause it’s too good to be true really..😩 idk what the future holds and I’m excited asf!”🤗 they say all good things come to an end.. but this is one thing that can never be taken away from me.. who I am.. who I’ve always been.. 😌 CLAIRE..🦄✨💕 #feelslikeimdreaming”

Legato was shot in the head on April 15 during an argument between her mother and suspected shooter John Booth.

Muhlaysia Booker

@FOX4 / Twitter

Muhlaysia Booker, 23, made news one month before her death, during what Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings described as “mob violence.” She was in a traffic accident that resulted in a mob of people viciously beating her in April. On May 19, Booker was found dead from a gunshot. A 33-year-old Dallas man has been arrested for her murder and is implicated in another murder of a trans woman in the Dallas area.

Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington

@hhhhggggghhh / Twitter

Tamika was shot and killed in Philadelphia on May 19. The death was not treated as a hate crime since they don’t believe her gender identity was the motivator for the attack. Her friend of 20 years, Deja Lynn Alvarez, shared in a Facebook post, “Your memory will live and light will shine on through us.” She was known as a “gay mother,” to all in the community.

Paris Cameron

@JennSchanzWXYZ / Twitter

Paris Cameron, 20, was living out and proud to the very end. She was last seen celebrating her life with two good friends, Timothy Blancher, 20, and Alunte Davis, 21–both black gay men. All three were gunned down and killed in Detroit. The suspected shooters were charged for the murders and authorities believe the gender identity of Cameron and sexual orientation of her friends were factors in the violent crime.

Chynal Lindsey

@_uhmchristine / Twitter

Chynal Lindsey, 26, was born and raised in Chicago but moved to Arlington, Texas in the last few years. She went to Prairie State college and was working as an in-home health care provider. The same person who killed Muhlaysia has been linked as a possible serial killer targeting Black trans women in the Dallas area.

Chanel Scurlock

@Ash_Bash23 / Twitter

Chanel Scurlock, 23, died on June 6th, the first week of Pride month in Lumberton, North Carolina. One friend posted, “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”

Zoe Spears

@DCist / Twitter

Zoe Spears, 23, was a client of Casa Ruby. Ruby Corado describes her as “my daughter — very bright and very full of life. Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.” Her death, so closely after Ashanti Carmon left the trans community od Washington on edge as authorities attempted to find out if the deaths were connected.

READ: Transgender Afro-Latina Layleen Polanco Was Found Dead In Prison And Her Family Is Demanding Answers

Claudia Ochoa Félix, Alleged Crime Leader Of The Sinaloa Drug Cartel, Was Found Dead

Things That Matter

Claudia Ochoa Félix, Alleged Crime Leader Of The Sinaloa Drug Cartel, Was Found Dead

Watching “Narcos: Mexico” on Netflix taught us one major aspect of cartels, there’s never just one person running a massive operation that includes importing and exporting drugs. Some may conclude that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was the mastermind over his billion-dollar drug empire but there were many key players involved as well, many of which are in either in jail or dead.  Now, there’s one more casualty to add to the list. 

Claudia Ochoa Félix, an alleged leader of “Los Ántrax” — an “armed enforcement wing of the Sinaloa drug cartel” was found dead.

Instagram/@chismes_calientes2019

Officials report that the cause of death for Félix, who was found dead over the weekend in Isla Musala, Culiacan, Mexico. is being ruled as suspicious. Félix, who’s Instagram shows her both posing as a model and around weaponry, was an alleged leader of “Los Ántrax” and had affiliations with El Chapo’s cartel. Her ties to Mexico’s crime world gave her a couple of infamous nicknames including the “Kim Kardashian of organized crime” the “Anthrax Empress.” However, at the end of the day, the 32-year-old (some outlets report she was 35), Félix was seen as one of the most powerful women within the Mexican cartel, a title she has always denied

Preliminary reports show Félix was found dead over the weekend due to a suspected overdose.

Credit: Instagram/@velia.o

However, because of her involvement with the cartel, some reports claim the death is suspicious. According to The Sun, “It is unclear whether she was the victim of foul play or whether it was an accidental death. Aspiration occurs when someone breaths foreign objects such as fluids into their lungs, causing choking and death. Reports said that she went to a nightclub in the city and returned to a man’s house later that night. The presumed lover said he tried to wake Ms. Felix but when she did not respond he called the local authorities.”

Félix leaves behind three kids. She was also suspected of being romantically involved with another cartel leader, Jose Rodrigo Arechiga, also known as “El Chino Antrax.”

Credit: Instagram/@chismes_calientes2019

In 2016, Arechiga was arrested for his involvement with the Mexican cartel, and back then reports circulated that Félix was trying to take over the entire cartel empire which would have sparked a drug war against El Chapo. After El Chapo’s capture, which resulted in a guilty verdict earlier this year and now faces life in prison, opened the door for other drug rings in Mexico to take over. One of those was “Los Ántrax” — and its leader was allegedly Félix

“My children are being subjected to bullying, my mother is suffering from anxiety, and I am devastated and without peace, and now my physical integrity is threatened,” Félix said in a 2014 interview with VICE. “That’s not me in the majority of them,” she added. “I’ve filed a complaint before the authorities so that they can investigate and arrest those responsible for opening and administering [the accounts], causing irreparable harm to my children and myself.”

In 2014, a woman named Yuriana Castillo Torres was allegedly killed in Culiacan, Mexico, because assailants confused her with Félix. 

Credit: Instagram/@_farandulaygentevip

Both women were dark beauties, and unfortunately they also both died too young. Torres was romantically linked to Arechiga. According to reports from 2014, Torres was killed very violently. Milenio reported that Torres was kidnapped and that authorities found that her body showed signs of “torture and was tied with hands and feet with wires, wore sportswear and was wrapped in a white sheet.”

In other related news from the drug cartel world, a New York police officer who provided security for El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was found guilty for selling cocaine. Officer Ishmael Bailey, 36, was arrested this week on “charges of conspiracy and sale of a controlled substance for allegedly acting as security twice when a load of cocaine was transported from various locations around Queens,” the New York Post reports. 

As we reported earlier this year, Aispuro announced she would dedicate her time to working on a fashion collection

“I am very happy to be able to create something like this. I hope it’ll be something everyone likes,” she told the New York Daily News. “I will give it my best effort to make it good for everyone and within everyone’s reach. I want to start with a line of caps, then I’ll begin to produce clothes, jackets.”

It’s good to see there is life outside of the crime world. 

READ: Hoping To Stop The Drug War, Mexico’s President Asks Drug Cartel Leaders To ‘Think Of Your Mother’

 
 

El Paso Artists Joined Together To Commemorate El Paso Gun Violence Victims With A Mural That Highlights Community Strength

Things That Matter

El Paso Artists Joined Together To Commemorate El Paso Gun Violence Victims With A Mural That Highlights Community Strength

Just seven weeks after the massacre at an El Paso Wal-Mart that took the lives of 22 people and injured 24 others, the border city is still recovering from their tragic losses. Though the victims have been laid to rest and the survivors are working towards healing, the city is still feeling the effects of the life-shattering experience. 

As national news has moved on from the tragedy, the minds and hearts of local El Pasoans are still with the embattled town. 

With that in mind, a new mural created by a pair of talented street artists has been created to celebrate the power of the Texas town. 

Twitter / @AlyssaCBS4

El Paso brothers, John Ramirez and Jamie Hernandez Jr., worked hard to craft this graffiti style mural. Reading “El Poderoso Tejano,” the vast wall painting is located between Ascarate Street and Valencia Place on the United States side of the border city. The mural was sponsored by local tee-shirt company, OG Family. The company will be selling tee-shirts of the mural design and all profits from their sale will go to the victims of the El Paso assault.

“It shows that everybody came as a community,” David Barbosa, co-owner of OG Family said of the mural. “For one purpose. That purpose is to show that we’re united no matter what happens. At the end, El Paso is united.”

The mural will also be featured in a music video for local El Paso record label, 915 Records Familia. The rap video will be filmed on September 28th. During the video shoot, a local car show will also take place at the mural’s site bringing together El Paso’s car community, rap community and street art community all in one spot. 

Though the Ramirez Brothers are now getting the credit they deserve for this mural, they were not named by local El Paso media who first reported the new artwork

Twitter / @cassyjernandez1 

In a video first promoting the mural, the brothers were not named as the artists. Instead, they were called “unlikely artists” and “former gang members.” Thankfully, Cassie Hernandez, a family member of the two artists, took to Twitter and credited them for their amazing work. 

In response, Twitter applauded the Ramirez Brothers’ craftsmanship and celebrated the spirit of El Paso’s survivors. 

 Twitter / @braydenbern

This Twitter user called out the attention to detail the artists put into the piece and also credited their commitment to graffiti-style art. The street art style came into popularity in the 1980s with the emergence of hip-hop culture. Cholo-inspired graffiti script especially became a calling card of Latinx communities and their street artists. While street art was once looked down upon, it is now celebrated for the unique and bold art form that it is.  

Many supporters were offended on the Ramirez Brothers’ behalf for the dis by local news. 

 Twitter / @angelitaaaxo

The original news story definitely did a disservice by leaving out the Ramirez Brothers’ names and by calling out any speculative former gang affiliation they might have had. Instead, their work as amazing artists and dedicated members of their community should be commended. There’s nothing “unlikely” about their talent or their love for El Paso.

This mural joins others that have recently gone up in El Paso to honor the victims of mass shootings.

Tweet / @thedailybeast

A mural honoring Joaquin Oliver, a victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, was unveiled the day after the tragedy in El Paso. The mural was planned before the Wal-Mart attack so the timing made the new addition to El Paso even more heartbreaking. Local artist Gabe Vasquez also created a mural reading “El Paso Strong” dedicated to the spirit of the border city.