Activists to Protest NYPD’s Handling of Transwoman’s Murder
On Thursday, Jan. 30 at 4 p.m., a coalition of representatives from New York City human rights organizations will protest the NYPD’s negligence in the immediate aftermath of the brutal beating death of transgender woman, Islan Nettles. The protest at One Police Plaza demands an explanation by incoming NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton and the NYPD for its initial malfeasance on the case and demands a report on the current status of the homicide investigation by NY County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.
"The transgender and cisgender communities together call on William Bratton and the NYPD to set an example with the Islan Nettles case by committing to seeing justice served, not only for Islan Nettles, but for all victims of transphobic violence in New York City," said Brooke Cerda, founder of the Transgender/Cisgender Coalition.
Endorsers include the Transgender/Cisgender Coalition, ACT UP/NY, Luz’s Daughter Cares, Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC), Harlem Pride, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR), Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand, Ali Forney Center, VOCAL-NY, ETNYC and Make the Road.
Several glaringly obvious breaches of procedure stand out about this case. At midnight on Aug. 17, 2013, Paris Wilson, accompanied by friends, flirted with Islan Nettles in Harlem, directly across the street from Police Service Area 6 at 2770 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, between West 147th and West 148th Street. (Public Service Area 6 covers the 24th, 26th, and 32nd Precincts.)
Upon realizing Nettles was transgender, Wilson became enraged and began to harass Nettles and her transgender companions with transphobic slurs. Wilson began punching Nettles vigorously in the face until she fell to the pavement, slamming her head on concrete, according to the NYPD. Notified by one of Nettles’ friends, police officers arrived at the scene and pulled Wilson off Nettles, who was then transported to Harlem Hospital and admitted with severe head trauma.
Officers at Police Service Area 6 did not question Nettles’ companions thoroughly and never checked on Nettles’ condition after her admittance to Harlem Hospital, according to law enforcement sources. Officers at the scene never obtained DNA evidence from Wilson’s hands. Investigations were halted until Aug. 23, when the D.A.’s office learned that Nettles was declared brain dead and removed from life support. When asked about crucial footage from the ten surveillance cameras located on the PSA 6 edifice and on surrounding structures, the D.A.’s office said all cameras were broken and no footage existed.