Kris Wade and Korea Kelly speak out after transgender woman’s death
The death of a person found early Tuesday in Northeast Kansas City would be the second killing of a transgender woman at the same intersection in four years if it proves to be a homicide as police suspect.
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, who police and a human rights advocate say identified as a black transgender woman, showed obvious signs of trauma to the face when she was found dead about 6:30 a.m. on the steps of a house in the 600 block of Spruce Avenue near Independence Avenue.
Neighbors told police they heard an argument and gunshots about 2:30 a.m. Police have not released a cause of death and no suspect information has been made publicly available.
Kris Wade, executive director of the Justice Project of Kansas City, said Lindsey has identified as a transgender woman since she met her more than 10 years ago. Wade said Lindsey struggled with chronic homelessness and was a kindhearted woman who practiced common courtesy in the streets.
“We just loved her to pieces,” Wade said. “She was such a sweetheart.”
Wade was deeply saddened by news of the killing, but unfortunately said she was not surprised. Black transgender women are especially vulnerable to violence.
Wade said seven transgender clients of hers have been killed in Kansas City since about 2009. Those include homicides that made national news, such as the killing of 31-year-old transgender woman Dee Dee Pearson, as well as people who had not come out publicly.
It was unclear if Lindsey was killed because she identified as a transgender woman, Wade said. But Lindsey experienced struggles that are not uncommon to the transgender community, such as losing her Medicaid coverage as well as her food stamps.
Wade said the Justice Project, when it had available funding, put Lindsey up in hotels.
“She was just at survival level,” Wade said. “She had nowhere to go.”
It was at the same intersection where Lindsey was found that, four years earlier in August 2015, Tamara Dominquez, a 36-year-old transgender woman, died after she was struck several times by a sports utility truck.
Police found her unresponsive in a parking lot. A witness told police she got out of the vehicle before its driver struck and ran over her.
A man who said he was Dominguez’s boyfriend told The Star she was a native of Veracruz, Mexico, and had moved to Kansas City to escape discrimination against transgender people.
In 2018, Luis Sanchez pleaded guilty in the killing and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Others have fallen victim to violence in the 600 block of Spruce Avenue. In December 2017, Rosemarie Harmon, a 55-year-old woman, was killed in a shooting that also injured a man. Antoine Fielder has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying.
A vulnerable community
The recent death of Lindsey outraged members of the LGBTQ community, who said violence against transgender people, especially those of color, is all too prevalent.
“This has been a tragic event that has been happening all year long,” said Korea Kelly, a case manager with the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. “I was very torn because it was another black girl gone and it hit home locally.”
Kelly said she worked with Lindsey and described her as a loving and caring person who loved to style hair and do makeup.
“But we as a community need to be together,” she said. “And especially my community, we need you to stand up and support the LGBT black community.”
“We must say her name, Brooklyn Lindsey,” Kelly said.
The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, reported that at least 10 transgender people, all of whom were black, have been violently killed this year. The group posted to Twitter on Tuesday saying it was mourning Lindsey’s death.
“This epidemic of violence that disproportionately impacts Black transgender women must cease,” the group wrote.
Maite Salazar, who is running as a Democrat for Missouri’s 5th Congressional District seat, was heartbroken by the news. A non-binary trans person, Salazar described the homicide as fitting into the trend of violence against black trans women across the country.
“It has reached a crisis point,” Salazar said Tuesday, adding that it has “always been a crisis.”
Salazar said some trans people don’t come out for reasons of violence, such as the killing Tuesday. Salazar advised anyone with trans friends to check on them.
“A lot of people are feeling unsafe right now,” Salazar said.
Recently the deaths of black transgender women in Dallas gained national attention. Presidential candidates have also spoken out about the killings.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, named the previous 10 victims in a tweet after the killing of 23-year-old Zoe Spears, a transgender woman who was shot multiple times in Fairmount Heights, Maryland. Warren also called the “murder of black trans women” a crisis.
“We’ll fight this,” Warren said, “and we will continue to say their names.”