A 37-year-old transgender woman was shot to death in downtown Oakland last weekend, just a block from Frank Ogawa Plaza/Oscar Grant Park, the former site of Occupy Oakland.
Brandy Martell was sitting behind the wheel of her car around 5:15 a.m. last Sunday, chatting with two friends, when one or two men walked up and began a conversation. A witness told ABC7 the conversation was cordial, but then a few minutes later, one of the men became angry and fired into the car right where Martell was sitting.
Until late last year, Martell worked as an outreach worker at the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont which serves the transgender and transsexual community. “When you don’t provide a space in society for people who you think are the other or different, especially transgender women, especially transgender women of color, when you don’t provide spaces for them to be in a safe environment or a safe space, whether it’s socializing or services, this is what happens,” Martell’s friend Tiffany Woods told ABC7.
At this point, investigators are talking to witnesses, to decide whether the shooter was motivated by a perception of the Martell’s sexual identity. Martell’s friends are convinced the killing was a hate crime.
Just Another Oakland Murder?
Meanwhile, here’s how Oakland’s flagship newspaper, The Oakland Tribune covered Martell’s murder:
The third death occurred around 5:45 a.m., when a person was shot to death at the corner of 13th and Franklin streets, a block from the Burger King where the Saturday incident occurred.
Police responding to reports of shots fired saw the person lying in the roadway, outside another restaurant that apparently had some of its windows shattered by gunfire. The shooting victim, identified as a 37-year-old Hayward resident, was pronounced dead at the scene.
And that was it, just a couple of paragraphs about “a person” who died, but no name, no identity.
Transgender People Murdered On Average More Than One Person Per Month
Transgender people face well-documented and unconscionable levels of bias-motivated violence. This is especially true of young, low-income transgender women of color. The stigma associated with being transgender requires transgender people to maintain constant vigilance against sudden brutal violence.
For years, transgender people have been murdered on an average of more than one person per month; many more have been assaulted.
As The Daily Kos points out, “Think about what the newscape would look like if a well-heeled, white, Oakland citizen living on “the right side of the tracks” (or, in Oakland parlance, “the hills”) had been the victim.”
Attention must be paid to this horrifying statistic.
Photo Credit: screenshot from ABC7news