Police in Albany, New York have opened an investigation into the murder of 24-year-old Serenity Hollis, an African-American transgender woman. Both Hollis’ family and local law enforcement suspect she was murdered in a hate crime.
Hollis died in the early morning hours of May 8, having been shot in the back. Early news reports of her death–as well as statements by her family–also misgendered and deadnamed her.
Now Hollis’ family tells reporters that they suspect she died in a hate crime. They also add that it would not have been the first time she was targeted.
“I don’t think it’s random. I believe honestly because of the way he carried himself that a lot of people took offense to it,” said Shannon Osberry, Hollis’ sister. “So honestly I believe it was either a hate crime or an act of revenge for some reason.”
“It’s a high crime area that definitely needs to be cleaned up. Its some things that have to be changed over in that area. Before my brother was actually killed maybe two and a half years ago my brother was stabbed multiple times at the House of Jazz,” Hollis’ sister Sara Osberry said. “So this was not the first time that something like this has happened to him. I’m not sure whether its just a high crime area or a high rate of prostitution or drugs.”
Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards also endorsed the idea that Hollis died in a hate crime.
“I cannot go into the specifics of everything about what happened, but it was pretty apparent that was probably a motivation for the death of Mr. Hollis,” Edwards said in a statement.
The investigation remains ongoing. The death of Serenity Hollis is yet another killing in a rash of violence against transgender Americans, with African-American transgender women one of the most heavily affected groups. At the time of this writing, the Human Rights Campaign reports that at least 25 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been murdered this year.