More than 15,000 people, all wearing white, came together in front of the Brooklyn Museum in New York City on Sunday to stand up for and celebrate black trans lives.
According to CBS News, the massive gathering was planned by trans activists and groups including The Okra Project and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, in response to the continued killing of black trans people in recent weeks—even as the entire country has mobilized to stand up for black lives.
Photos and video posted on social media over the weekend showed a stunning turnout for what organizers are calling the “largest trans-based protest in history.”
Speakers at the event included the sister of Layleen Polanco, an Afro-Latina transgender woman who died last June while in solitary confinement at Rikers Island. New footage released by NBC News over the weekend shows that while Polanco was dying of an epileptic seizure, guards were outside her cell laughing.
No one has been found criminally responsible in Polanco’s death and the official report published by NYC’s Department of Investigations used her “deadname,” the name assigned to her at birth, which she later rejected while she was alive, NBC reported.
“I wasn’t surprised that the report was going to find the police not guilty,” Polanco’s sister Melania Brown said. “What bothered me the most was deadnaming. The public and myself and my family deserve a public apology. It clearly shows their bias.”
In the weeks since massive protests against anti-black violence have been taking place across the country, black trans people—such as Tony McCade, killed by police in Tallahassee, and Dominique Fells, whose body was found dismembered in Philadelphia—have continued to experience high levels of violence.
Riah Milton, a black transgender woman who was killed in Ohio last week, was also misgendered in the official statements from authorities on her death according to the Cincinnati Inquirer.
“Whether you are Black trans or not—you have a duty to elevate Black trans power,” trans activist Raquel Willis said at the protest in Brooklyn on Sunday, which came after the Trump Administration finalized a rule that eliminates anti-discrimination protections for transgender people in health care.
On Monday the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling, establishing that the federal law prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex includes transgender and gay people, according to the New York Times.
Organizers said Sunday’s protest in Brooklyn was inspired by the NAACP’s Silent Protest Parade in 1917, in which 10,000 people dressed in white and took to the streets of New York to protest anti-black violence. It was a fitting and critical reminder that all black lives have to matter in the fight for black liberation, especially black trans ones.