On Tuesday, India Clarke, an African American Transgender woman was viciously and brutally beaten to her death and her body left to be found in a park in Tampa, Florida. Clarke is the tenth Transgender woman to be killed this year.
Hundreds of people attended a vigil for Clarke on Wednesday night at the park where her body was found. Another vigil was held for Clarke on Friday organized by local transgender women in Tampa.
Police say that at 9:00 am on Tuesday, at a park located near Tampa’s University Area Community Center, a center employee called authorities to alert them that a body had been found. Police said her upper body had obvious signs of homicidal violence and that they are investigating Clarke’s death as a homicide.
Law enforcement misgendered her in their reports saying, “We are not going to categorize him as a transgender. We can just tell you he had women’s clothing on at the time,” adding, “What his lifestyle was prior to that we don’t know — whether he was a cross dresser, we don’t know.” Completely disregarding her own identification which she has made clear to family, friends and on her social media accounts.
WTSP Tampa Bay News then proceeded to report that Clarke had “a prior arrest in 2013 for prostitution while posing as a woman,” without supplying any evidence whatsoever linking her murder to being a sex worker.
Police adamantly believe Clarke’s gender identity was not a factor in the homicide but national statistics are not in their favor. In 2014, thirteen Transgender women were killed and twelve of them identified as either Hispanic or African American. A report released last year by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs cited Transgender women accounted for 55% of homicide victims and Transgender women of color were 50% of homicide victims.
Local law enforcement are currently searching for leads, and Crime Stoppers is offering up to $3000 for information that leads to an arrest of any suspects.
While sheriff deputies file gender identity under semantics, without acknowledging that identity, those that knew her or may have information surrounding her horrific death potentially will not come forward, as they knew and identified her as a woman and not a man.