Thousands of petitioners are demanding a new investigation into the 2019 death of Tete Gulley, a Black trans woman in Portland, Oregon. Gulley was found hanging from a tree in a park in May 2019. The police ruled the death a suicide, but Gulley’s family says that officials never truly investigated evidence of murder. A Change.org petition calling for “Justice for Tete” has now reached over 600,000 signatures.
“The family and the community believes there is foul play in the death of Tete Gulley and that it was not a suicide,” the petition says. “We write this petition to demand clear and precise action be taken under the failure to properly investigate the death of Tete Gulley.”
According to Out, Gulley’s death occurred at a park where a community of houseless people and sex workers lived. Gulley was reportedly a member of this community. Shortly after her death, the family says they received messages on Facebook saying that Gulley had been killed by a man named “Trigger” to hide the pair’s “clandestine sexual relationship.” Someone also claimed to have video of the incident, with several other people as witnesses.
Gulley’s family’s petition demands that the Portland Police Bureau “be held accountable for failure to investigate critical evidence of witnesses and key suspects.” The petition also says that Portland police failed to keep Gulley’s family informed about her death and the case.
Police say the investigation is closed, but Gulley’s loved ones aren’t giving up.
“I know [she] did not commit suicide, no doubt about that,” Gulley’s mother said, via the petition. “For them to say that [she] committed suicide, it’s just hard to believe because [she] was just so full of joy regardless of what was going on around [her].”
The petition also points out that Gulley’s death is part of a larger pattern of violence against Black queer and trans people. At least 15 trans people have been killed in the U.S. so far in 2020.