Thousands of people showed up to Sunday’s march in support of Black trans lives in Brooklyn, New York. It was one of several Black Trans Lives Matter protests across the country, motivated in part by the epidemic of violence against Black trans people, including two women who died last week, Dominique ‘Rem’Mie’ Fells of Philadelphia and Riah Milton of Cincinnati.
Organizers asked protesters to wear white to the Brooklyn event, causing the streets surrounding the Brooklyn Museum to become an impressive sea of white. Per CBS News, an estimated 15,000 people dressed in white showed up.
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The march was organized and led by prominent trans people of color, including writer and activist Raquel Willis. Partner organizations included the Okra Project, For The Gworls, and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. According to co-organizer Fran Tirado, the choice to wear white was inspired by an NAACP protest in 1917, in which 10,000 people wore white to protest violence against Black people.
The Brooklyn rally honored several Black trans victims of violence, including Tony McDade, who died at the hands of police in Florida in May 2020, and Layleen Polanco, who died at Riker’s Island in June 2019. Violence against trans people is often underreported or misreported, with media reports using the wrong pronouns or names. Moreover, the vast majority of this violence is committed against young Black women in particular, per CNN.
Polanco’s sister, Melania Brown, spoke at the Brooklyn rally.
“Black trans lives matter,” Brown told the crowd. “My sister’s life mattered. All of the loved ones we have lost, all of these beautiful girls that we have lost. Their lives matter. We have to protect them.”
Willis wrote on Twitter ahead of the event: “Today we will rally because jail officials laughed at a trans Afro-Latina woman minutes before she died, 2 Black trans women were reported murdered this week, a trans man was killed by police, and the Trump administration has repealed our healthcare protections.”
The Brooklyn event was just one of several across the country. In Los Angeles, an estimated 25,000 people showed up to march in honor of McDade.