Erika Keels lost her life on March 22nd after someone pushed the trans woman from their car, backed up and proceeded to run her down four times. Horrified witnesses reported the incident to the Philadelphia police. Though police identified the alleged perpetrator, they’ve done nothing to seek justice, according to Philadelphia’s KYW Radio News.
What’s more, the department declared Keels’ killing an “accident”. When Keels’ trans comrades raised the issue, police turned their backs.
Women of Color Blog reports:
When Ms. Keels’ friends, who are themselves trans, questioned police officials about the classification of her death as an accident, they were asked to disclose their “birth” names and told they were “trying to make something out of nothing.”
Incensed over the inaction, a group of activists are petitioning North Philadelphia police to do something about it. Their grassroots effort declares:
We, the undersigned, refuse to be told that the murder of Ms. Keels–and the subsequent police denial of the brutal, hateful assault on her–are “nothing.” The Philadelphia police have failed to protect her basic human rights and dignity.
We, as a community, will not fail her. We are individuals and organizations representing Black, Latina/o and Asian people; trans and gender non-conforming people; lesbians, gays and bisexuals; youth; immigrants; educators; students; social service providers; activists; religious communities; professionals; neighborhoods; and supporters around the world.
We demand a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Keels’ death. Her case must be re-opened. Now and in the future, the police must follow their mandate to protect and serve all Philadelphians, including those targeted for hate because of their gender expression and identity. All levels of city government and administration must ensure that policy meant to protect human rights of people in this city is followed in letter and spirit.
If you care about helping track Keels’ killer, trans rights or just good old fashioned justice, click here.