Kiesha Jenkins, a 22-year-old transgender woman, was beaten and fatally shot on a street in Philadelphia early Tuesday morning.
According to People, around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Kiesha Jenkins was dropped off on Wingohocking Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she was accosted by at least five men, savagely beaten to the ground, and then shot twice in the back after one of the assailants pulled a gun. Eyewitnesses called police to report a robbery and possible shooting, and when officers arrived, they discovered Jenkins lying on the ground. Kiesha was immediately transported to Einstein Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 2:53 a.m.
— ReJenerationS (@ReJenerationS) October 7, 2015
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that police are not yet calling the murder of Kiesha Jenkins a hate crime, though it’s not out of the realm of possibility, says Philadelphia homicide Capt. James Clark.
“We don’t know if it’s potentially a hate crime, or a robbery — we really don’t know. It’s too early in the investigation.”
Kiesha Jenkins’ death is the second murder of a transgender woman in Philadelphia this year, the eighteenth transgender woman of color killed this year, and at least the twenty-first murder of a transgender person nationwide since the beginning of 2015. That shocking number is up from 12 in 2013, and 14 in 2012. Nellie Fitzpatrick, the mayor’s liaison to the gay community of Philadelphia, calls these deaths tragic and wicked.
“[Kiesha Jenkins’ death is] a tremendous and tragic loss for the entire city, our LGBT community, and, more specifically, our trans community. This type of wicked, inhumane violence just has no place here. We can’t take anymore. It’s just too much. The violence against the trans community, specifically trans women of color, is an absolute, widespread national problem. And the problem isn’t solved by solving each homicide after it happens. The solution is in our society – making sure that any level of stigma or lack of access is completely eliminated for everyone.”
The senseless murder of Kiesha Jenkins has sparked outrage not only among the LGBTQ community, but worldwide, with the hashtag #SayHerName created in Jenkins’ honor currently trending on Twitter.
— rachel (@rachmelufizzy) October 7, 2015
In May of this year, another young transgender woman, 21-year-old London Banks — who also went by the name Londyn Chanel — was also murdered on the streets of Philadelphia like Kiesha Jenkins. According to Heavy.com, Chanel was stabbed to death by Raheam Felton, the boyfriend of her roommate, after an alleged argument.
Police are asking for help in locating the men who attacked and killed Kiesha Jenkins, and ask that any eye witnesses come forward with information on the men. They are also seeking the driver of the car that dropped Jenkins off in the middle of the night, far from her home. No eyewitness reports of the car or the person driving it have come in as of yet, and police have no description of the vehicle. It was no longer on the scene by the time officers arrived to find Jenkins’ body.
Capt. Clark says they do not believe that Kiesha Jenkins knew any of her attackers, or that she had had any prior contact with them before the brutal attack. They are also searching for surveillance footage of the area — as it is near a local children’s playground — in the hopes that any footage could potentially shed some light on the horrific crime. There is a $20,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest or conviction in the death of Kiesha Jenkins.
Kiesha is being remembered by friends and family as a bubbly and outgoing person with an “energetic spirit.” Kiesha’s good friend, 18-year-old Arielle Page, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Jenkins “had her witty ways. She was wild in a good way. You wanted to be around her.” Page, however, is also scared. She realizes how easily Kiesha Jenkins’ outcome could have been her own.
“I thought — that could have been me.”
[Image Credit: Kiesha Jenkins / Facebook]