Shooter in Memphis Court
Shooter in Court in Memphis on Monday
Monday, June 15, Terron Taylor, who admitted shooting a transgender woman in Memphis on May 27, will appear in General Sessions Court, Division 9, Docket #09120477, to face a charge of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree.
While Taylor is currently being held on a $500,000 bond, Shelby County authorities have a poor track record when it comes to addressing anti-transgender violence.
D'Andre Blake was released on a mere $20,000 bond for the February 2006 murder of Tiffany Berry. After walking the streets a free man for two and a half years, he killed his own two year daughter, Dre-Ona Blake, in July 2008. There has still been no trial date set for the original murder charge.
The Office of the Shelby County District Attorney has refused to file charges against Memphis Police Officer Bridges McRae for the February 2008 beating of Duanna Johnson. To its credit, the U.S. Department of Justice did so in November 2008, but local authorities will not. The District Attorney of Shelby County, Bill Gibbons, is running for Governor of Tennessee on an "anti-crime" platform.
There have been no arrests in the July 2008 murder of Ebony Whitaker, the November 2008 murder of Duanna Johnson, or the December 2008 shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.
The violence against transgender people in Memphis must stop immediately, and it begins with acknowledgement of the humanity of transgender people, aggressive prosecution of those who commit such violent acts, and rejection of any attempt to use the trans-panic defense.
In addition, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition urges swift passage in the United States Senate of S.909, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The House of Representatives has already passed this legislation, which is supported by President Obama, by a vote of 249 to 175.
Please contact both of Tennessee's Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and tell them you want to them to support S.909. With the recent rash of hate crimes across the nation, and with new statistics from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation showing a sharp increase in hate crimes in Tennessee, there must be federal legislation to protect all LGBT people when local authorities refuse to act.
We also urge members of the Tennessee General Assembly to pass HB0335 by Rep. Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis) and 21 others, and SB0253 by Sens. Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis) and Ophelia Ford (D-Memphis), as soon as they return in January. This bill would add "gender identity or expression" as a hate crimes sentencing enhancement factor to Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-114. Passage of this bill will make it easier for state and local authorities to track and prosecute hate crimes against all LGBT Tennesseans.
If you do not know the names of your state legislators, go to http://www.capitol.tn.gov.
We also ask everyone to continue talking to both U.S. Representatives and Senators about the importance of the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We anticipate that ENDA will be introduced in the coming weeks. It is time to end job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. If LGBT people can find, and hold, decent paying jobs, then we are less likely to end up on the streets where we become vulnerable to hate crimes.