DA Larry Krasner, other leaders urge more legal protection for transgender people after recent killing
They spoke about the need for state hate-crime legislation to protect people attacked based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, among other protections.
Decrying recent violence against transgender women in Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner on Thursday called for more protections for people in the LGBT community.
“If the criminal justice system is so frightening to marginalized people, that they will not complain when they are victimized … then the criminal justice system fails,” Krasner said while standing near the Octavius V. Catto Memorial on the south apron of City Hall.
He was joined at a news conference by Deputy Police Commissioner Ben Naish, State Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Phila.), and LGBT leaders three days after patrol officers in the Belmont section of West Philadelphia pulled over a Jeep Wrangler during a traffic stop, and discovered in the passenger seat a transgender woman who was shot in her neck.
Mia Green, 29, died shortly afterward at a hospital, and the driver of the Jeep, Abdullah Ibn El-Amin Jaamia, 38, of North Philadelphia, was charged the next day with murder. Police said the fatal shooting followed an argument.
Krasner declined to elaborate on details of Green’s killing or comment on the relationship between Green and El-Amin Jaamia. Instead, he urged people in marginalized communities not to be afraid to speak to law enforcement authorities, saying they will be protected.
Farnese, minority chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced bills that would expand legal protections for LGBT people, including a measure that would make it a hate crime to attack a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2014, Philadelphia passed legislation that recognizes attacks based on gender identity or sexual orientation as hate crimes, but the measure only allows such a crime — defined as “ethnic intimidation” — to be charged as a summary offense.
“These aren’t just stories,” Farnese said at the news conference. “They are lives and they are our loved ones.”
Farnese also mentioned the June killing of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, 27, who was stabbed to death and whose dismembered body was found in the Schuylkill. Police have issued an arrest warrant for Akhenaton Jones, 36, of Powelton, on charges of murder, possession of an instrument of crime, tampering with evidence, and abuse of corpse. He remains a fugitive.
And Farnese noted that in August, Kendall Stephens, 34, another Black transgender woman, was assaulted by a group of women and men in her Point Breeze home. Tymesha Wearing, 34, of Kingsessing, was arrested and charged last month with conspiracy, aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, and related offenses in the attack.
Celena Morrison, executive director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said that “while the LGBT community has long experienced disproportionate rates of violence, the past few months have been especially difficult.” She mourned the slayings of Fells and Green, and also those of Tony McDade, a Black transgender man in Florida, and Black transgender women Nina Pop in Missouri and Riah Milton in Ohio.
“When we talk about reducing violence against the community, knowing that there will be consequences for these actions is obviously a critical deterrent for those seeking to do harm,” Morrison said.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw did not attend the news conference, but added her support in a statement. “The murder of Mia Green is yet another despicable act of violence against a member of our LGBTQ community,” she said. “While an arrest was quickly made, we must continue to work hard to ensure that the man responsible is held accountable in order to bring a measure of justice to Mia and her family.”
In the death of Fells, anyone with knowledge of Jones' whereabouts is asked to contact police at 215-686-TIPS (-8477) or by email at email@example.com.