By Mark F. Gray
The investigation into the apparent homicide of a transgender woman in Fairmount Heights continues in Prince George’s County. Ashanti Carmon, 27, of Alexandria, Va. was fatally shot several times reportedly after an evening out with friends on March 30.
According to a statement from the Prince George’s County Police Department, Fairmount Heights Police responded to reports of gunshots fired near the 5000 block of Jost Street in the vicinity of Eastern Avenue N.E., near the D.C.- Maryland border, around 6:30 a.m. When officers arrived on the scene they found Carmon’s body filled with multiple gunshot wounds and she was pronounced dead on the scene.
In an emotional interview Carmon’s fiancé, Phillip Williams, told NBC-4 in Washington there was no reason why someone would want to hurt her. Williams said they had gone to a movie and dinner on Friday night, and he hadn’t heard from Ashanti since she went out with her friends while he was at work.
“Until I leave this earth, I’m gonna continue on loving her, in my heart, body and soul,” Williams said. “She did not deserve to leave this earth so early. Especially in the way she went out, she did not deserve that. … I’m gonna miss her face every day. I’m gonna miss her smile. I’m gonna miss every inch of her.”
Police have yet to make any arrests in the case while Carmon’s loved ones and the transgender community have rallied around this horrific tragedy. A candlelight vigil was held to honor her memory on April 2. It was not only a time for the D.M.V.’s transgender community to mourn it was a call to action against a rash of hate crimes directed toward them.
“I can’t call it hate. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what led up to it,” said trans activist Earline Budd Metro Weekly. All we can do is plead that someone comes forward with information. I believe that eventually something will come out that will shed more light on what happened.”
A major problem facing this community is gentrification. With D.C. and Maryland in the midst of their transformations, many of the places where members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community would socialize in have been converted into new establishments, which has diminished the number of safe social sanctuaries for these residents.
Budd noted that while there have been a history of anti-transgender attacks or robberies in the Eastern Avenue corridor in recent years, this community has no place to congregate in the D.C. metro area, and therefore end up meeting in public places, like along the Eastern Avenue corridor where Carmon’s apparent murder took place.
“We don’t have anywhere in this city now to go,” Budd said. “So the streets are the place where we congregate with our friends and sometimes we are preyed upon.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Anti-Trans Violence Report at least 128 transgender and gender-expansive individuals have been killed in the U.S since 2013. However, 2017 and 2018 saw the largest spike toward transgender Americans with 51 targeted attacks that were fatal nationwide.
Transgender people of color have been targeted the most. In the past six years of reporting at least 110 victims were people of color, including 95 who identified themselves as Black or African American.
“With the administration we have now, the Trump-Pence administration, it has done nothing for us as transgender people,” Budd added. “In fact, it more or less validates that it’s all right to kill us, to do anything you want to us, because we are transgender people.”
This article originally appeared in The Afro.