The Human Rights Campaign continues to mourn the deaths of two
transgender women who were brutally gunned down in Southeast Washington
in mid August. Members of HRC's staff attended a vigil last night in
memory of Stephanie Thomas and Ukea Davis, and the group vowed to fight for
a more secure world for transgender Americans.
"While nothing can bring Stephanie Thomas and Ukea Davis back, we
can honor their memory by promoting tolerance and justice in their names,"
said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch, who attended the vigil. "The
Human Rights Campaign is proud to celebrate their lives and we will work to
ensure that transgender Americans are safe and secure in the District and in
It is still unclear whether the murders were hate crimes. Sgt. Brett
Parson, head of the D.C. police gay and lesbian liaison unit, told the
Washington Post today that investigators have no suspects and "are still
exploring all the possibilities."
However, the sheer ferocity of the attacks – each victim had at
least ten bullet wounds – is consistent with the brutality often associated
with hate crimes. Additionally, friends and relatives of the victims say
that they were frequently harassed. HRC today called on the District's
police department to continue their work on the investigation so justice
"We are glad that the Washington police responded so quickly in their
investigation of this case," said Birch. "We urge them to work with
continued urgency and diligence to make sure justice is served."
District Mayor Anthony Williams attended the vigil along with
activists, friends and family members of Davis and Thomas. HRC said that no
matter what the outcome of the investigation; the murders are having the
effect of hate crimes on the community.
"Hate crimes are unique in that they affect more than just the
immediate victims," said Birch. "These crimes are meant to send a message of
fear to entire communities and terrorize everyone within those communities.
Until the murderers are caught, no member of the GLBT community will feel
completely safe in the District of Columbia."
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