WASHINGTON, DC — In response to news that Tony McDade, a Black transgender man, was murdered in Tallahassee, FL on Saturday, May 27 by police, David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, released the following statement:
“Adequate words do not exist to describe the weight of the pain that accompanies drafting statements to honor Black people who have been murdered as a result of who they are and how they show up in the world. It especially pains me to acknowledge when police officers who do not have a license to kill—are implicated in the murder. In the last 72 hours, there have been multiple hyper visible examples of the unbearable pain that Black people are too often forced to endure. We have also seen attempts to dismiss that pain and to rush past holding those responsible accountable. The accepted practices of hate crimes against Black LGBTQ and same-gender-loving (SGL) people and state-sanctioned murders of Black people must come to an abrupt and complete end. And more must be done to call attention to the fact that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people are not covered by the media.
“It pains me to have learned about Tony McDade, who we understand was killed by a member of the Tallahassee Police Department [Saturday] morning. Tony, a Black trans man, is our brother. Prior to being shot and fatally wounded by a police officer, Tony posted a video to his Facebook page recounting a horrific beating he received from five men because he is a Black trans man. This tragic incident should be a reminder that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people happen too frequently—often without the national public outcry that our cis and/or heteronormative brothers and sisters receive. In 2018 alone, over 1,500 hate crimes based on bias against someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity were reported. And the violence is escalating. There was more than a 18 percent increase in these hate crimes from 2016 to 2018, and the FBI reports an 11 percent increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period.
“We should all be clear about the fact that hate crimes against people of every racial and ethnic category increased across the board after the 2016 election. Trump has escalated the violence with racist rhetoric and destructive policies designed to divide and keep some of us locked out of access to opportunity. The clearest consequences of these deleterious actions are evident in these examples of vitriol, violence and death.
“We don’t know a lot of the details around Tony’s death, or how police became involved. We do know that Tony should not have been killed. We must work together to raise awareness about the unique challenges that Black LGBTQ/SGL people face. It is important to highlight the too often ignored violence that members of our community face in addition to the discrimaintion we may experience because we are Black.
“We must also work to ensure that police officers understand they do not have a license to kill Black people, period. Let us work together to ensure that the Tallahassee Police Department and Chief Lawrence Revell, Tallahassee Mayor John E. Dailey, and Tallahassee District Attorney Chasity H. O’Steen know that the world is watching and anticipating a full and complete investigation, which may include: firing the officer(s) involved in the killing, including any officers that stood by and did nothing to prevent the killing; decertifying the officer(s) so that they are unable to obtain employment with another department in another state; charging the officer(s) with murder or manslaughter; and investing in promising and proven practices to reduce the rate at which Black people are murdered by police officers. We encourage you to call the Tallahassee Police Department at 850-891-0000 to register concern and to demand a complete investigation and public accounting for what happened to Tony McDade.
“As we honor each of our siblings, including Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, we must also say Tony McDade’s name.”