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Las Vegas vigil remembers transgender homicide victims in US

Updated August 20, 2020 - 10:24 pm

Well-known figures in the LGBTQ community in Las Vegas took a back seat Thursday night to stand in solidarity at a candlelight vigil organized by a 19-year-old resident.

Members of the LGBTQ community and allies gathered outside the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada on Maryland Parkway to remember the nearly 30 transgender people who have been killed nationwide in 2020.

Lead organizer Chrystal McKinley said she felt it was urgent to have the vigil after the July killings of Brayla Stone, a 17-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Queasha Hardy, 24, a hairstylist from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“When I see people of my kind dying, it’s an urgent thing,” she said. “My people are in danger. The trans community is in danger.”

LGBTQ Center trans coordinator Ray Macfarlane and Las Vegas Pride President Brady McGill were among the 60 people who held candles and stood in designated chalk rectangles, 6 feet apart.

“This is a night reserved for knowledge of hate,” McKinley said before divulging into the “stabbings, shootings and dismemberment” of transgender people she’s learned of this year.

A video displaying the photos and names of the people killed this year played while the participants formed the transgender symbol holding the candles.

Becca, who declined to give her last name because she has not yet come out as transgender to the people in her life, said she feels unsafe in Las Vegas knowing that transgender women are killed.

“It’s disconcerting that people are allowed to discriminate based on this,” the Centennial Hills resident said.

Aleida Castro came with two of her friends after hearing about the vigil on Instagram. She said the killings in the transgender community haven’t been spoken about enough.

“Vegas hasn’t talked a lot about trans rights,” the 27-year-old Las Vegas resident said. “It’s important. It’s like a genocide.”

The other names honored Thursday night included Tiffany Harris, who was fatally stabbed in New York City; Aja Rhone-Spears, who was stabbed at a vigil in Portland, Oregon; and Jayne Thompson who was fatally shot by a Colorado State Patrol trooper.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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