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Rally for Tonya Harvey

February 25, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

#Justice4Kita. Steps of Buffalo City Hall. #translivesmatter.

Queers for Racial Justice statement on the murder of Tonya “Kita” Harvey

Tonya “Kita” Harvey, a trans woman of color, was murdered on Shepard Street in Buffalo, New York on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. This news came as a shock to her family, friends, and loved ones who recalled her tenderheartedness and good-natured personality. The LGBTQ community in Buffalo also grieved the loss of their sister, friend, and family member.

A statement put out immediately following the incident by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office stated, “The DA’s Office is also extremely concerned about a spike in homicides of transgender people across the country and will be, as part of this investigation, looking into whether or not this is a potential hate crime.” While we appreciate that the DA’s Office is taking the likelihood that this was a hate crime seriously, Queers for Racial Justice (Q4RJ) feels it necessary to voice our opposition to hate crime laws on the basis that these laws are generally not enforced equitably and ultimately stem from an adherence to white supremacist systems and institutions instead of a divestment from them.

And although violence against trans, gender non-conforming, lesbian, gay, bisexual, Two Spirit and Queer communities, especially queer and trans Black and Indigenous people, is nothing new, the Trump administration has willfully created a political climate that’s deeply rooted in transphobia, misogyny, anti-blackness and racism. The ramifications of which are being felt by the LGBTQ community at large, but particularly trans women of color who have experienced the most dangerous and deadliest years on record over the past several years.

Violence against trans lives is mental as well as physical. We condemn the Buffalo Police Department (BPD), Buffalo News and other media outlets for their misgendering of Kita in their early reporting and for continuing to not offer her or her community an apology for their disrespect of her and her self-determination.

This comes on the heels of other injustices perpetrated by the BPD in our communities, particularly communities of color. We echo the call from criminal justice organizers, activists and allies in calling for a community policing agenda that goes beyond the disbandment of the Strike Force alone. It includes the disbandment of the Housing Unit, end to the criminalization of marijuana (which was lawfully done 40 years ago in New York state), increased training to deemphasize use of force and to address implicit bias, as well as the abolishment of the Department altogether someday.

Queers for Racial Justice mourns the untimely death of Tonya “Kita” Harvey as well as the deaths of the other three trans people killed so far this year: Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslin of North Adams, Massachusetts, Viccky Gutierrez from Honduras and Celine Walker who was killed in Jacksonville Florida. The death of any human being at the hands of hate is one too many. We demand dignity and safety for all trans people and commit to doing our part to create a world where everyone is able to live out their truth without fear of retaliation.

We will work towards justice for Kita and trans women of color, who continue to be among the most marginalized populations in the United States of America. This starts with an acknowledgement of the fact that even trans women of color who are still alive are deprived of their most basic needs, including employment, housing, healthcare, and other basic human rights. Queers for Racial Justice and our allies commit to centering trans women of color and developing a community action plan to address their needs. We also demand that those in power use their privilege in service of our sisters who are still living and reallocate public dollars away from policing our communities and instead invest in them. It’s the right and just thing to do to honor not only Kita’s life but all of those who have come before her.

In the meantime, we invite everyone to a rally to honor Kita’s life this Sunday, February 25th at Niagara Square from 2-3pm. (See attached flier.)

For media inquiries, please contact Jennifer Connor at (716) 550-9393 or [email protected]


About Queers for Racial Justice:

Queers for Racial Justice is a group dedicated to an intersectional movement grounded in the belief that everyone should be able to live out their truth without fear of retaliation. Q4RJ is committed to centering the experience of those most impacted by state sanctioned violence and white supremacy. We believe that no one is free until we are all free, and that BLACK LIVES MATTER.

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February 25, 2018
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm