Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Philly Diamond Williams Vigil Remarks-Gloria Casarez

TransGriot Note: I had the sincere pleasure of meeting Gloria Casarez during the LGBT Media Convening in Philadelphia back in February.  We had a nice conversation about more than a few issues, including the Nizah Morris case.   Gloria is the director for the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, and she was at LOVE Park last night to give her remarks at the vigil for Diamond Williams.


I don’t want to be here today.

Less than a year ago at our LGBT community center, we gathered for Kyra Kruz – who was murdered.
Her murderer is still out there.

Two years before Kyra, we gathered right here at Love Park for Stacey Blahnik – who was murdered.
Her murderer is still out there.

And, almost 11 years ago, we gathered for Nizah Morris – who was murdered.
Her murderer is still out there.

Today, we’ve gathered for Diamond – who was brutally murdered over the weekend. The only consolation in Diamond’s death is that HER murderer has been captured. Her murder will see justice and I pledge that we will keep attention on Diamond’s brutal murder. We’ll keep attention on this case – for Diamond, Kyra, Stacey, Nizah, and all of us who have experienced violence because of who we are.

We will fight so that the coward who killed her pays for his crime. We will fight so that her killer can’t use “she tricked me” as a defense. We will fight, because Diamond, Kyra, Stacey, and Nizah can’t fight.
But, as we fight, there are witnesses who said nothing. Be mindful of this as much as you are mindful of your own safety. And in every one of these cases I believe there are witnesses who have said nothing. I don’t want to be here – for another murder.

Another act of violence. Another loss. Another death misreported by the press. Another “man in women’s clothing” piece from our local media. To anyone covering these stories, we can’t train you. You’re a journalist and we expect you to get the story right. The National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association and GLAAD have style guides for media that offer instruction on how to refer to LGBT people in reporting. USE it! If the police give you inaccurate or confusing information about a person, ASK clarifying questions! That’s what journalists are supposed to do and that’s what we need you to do.

When people are misidentified in the press, its hurtful. Hurtful to the people who knew and loved them and it dishonors their life. It also hinders investigations at the earliest point and contributes to these cases being unsolved. When initial news reports describe a victim as “a man in women’s clothing” to describe a transgender woman, it impacts witness reports. When Kyra was described in such a way it was stunning. Anyone who knew Kyra would describe her as a woman and any witness who may have seen her the night she was murdered, wouldn’t have “read” her as a “man in women’s clothing.”

We need to respect people in life and especially in death and that very much extends to a person’s gender identity and expression.

We’ve done a lot of work here in Philadelphia on LGBT issues and I’m proud to be a part of these positive changes in law, policy, and protections – but – we still have work to do. And by WE, I mean all of us.

No number of laws, policies and protections are going to keep you safe in a dangerous situation. We can’t be lulled in to a false sense of security. Especially when we’re in the Gayborhood, its easier for some of us to be “US”, but its important to note that none of these crimes took place in the gayborhood – these crimes took place in north Philly, northeast, southwest, and Center City.

Today, we gather for Diamond and we know that her murderer will see justice. All of us will see to that. And, we’ll follow this case on through to the end. For Diamond. For Kyra. For Stacey. For Nizah. For you and for me – we will not rest. JUSTICE FOR DIAMOND

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