FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 20, 2014
CONTACT: E. NARIKO WRIGHT
EMAIL: Luzs.Daughter.Cares@gmail.com // http://wp.me/p44SHq-bu
NYC Human Rights Coalition Demands Transparent Investigation of Brutal Transphobic Murder of Islan Nettles
On Thursday, January 30th, 2014 at 4 p.m., a coalition of representatives from New York City human rights organizations (including transgender and cisgender [non-transgender] activists) will protest the NYPD’s negligence in the immediate aftermath of the brutal beating death of transgender woman, Islan Nettles. The protest at One Police Plaza demands an explanation by incoming NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton and the NYPD for its initial malfeasance and demands a report on the current status of the felony investigation by NY County District Attorney Cyrus R.Vance, Jr. Members of The Transgender/Cisgender Coalition, ACT UP NY, Luz’s Daughter Cares, Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC), LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, Harlem Pride, Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR), Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand, Ali Forney Center, Lambda Legal, Everything Transgender New York City (ETNYC), Translatina Network, Stonewall Democratic Club of NY, VOCAL, Make the Road, Global Network of Black Pride and Destination Tomorrow have all endorsed the action.
Several glaringly obvious breaches of procedure stand out about this case. At midnight, August 17, 2013, Paris Wilson, accompanied by friends, flirted with Islan Nettles in Harlem, directly across the street from Police Service Area 6 at 2770 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, between West 147th and West 148th Street. (Public Service Area 6 covers the 24th, 26th, and 32nd Precincts.) Upon realizing Nettles was transgender, Wilson became enraged and began to harass Nettles and her transgender companions with transphobic slurs. Wilson began punching Nettles vigorously in the face until she fell to the pavement, slamming her head on concrete, according to the NYPD. Notified by one of Nettles’ friends, police officers arrived at the scene and pulled Wilson off of Nettles, according to DNAinfo.com. Nettles was then transported to Harlem Hospital and admitted with severe head trauma. Officers at Police Service Area 6 did not question Nettles’ companions thoroughly and never checked on Nettles’ condition after her admittance to Harlem Hospital, law enforcement sources have confirmed. Officers at the scene never obtained DNA evidence from Paris Wilson’s hands. Investigations were halted until August 23rd, when the D.A.’s office learned that Nettles was declared brain dead and removed from life support. When asked about crucial footage from the ten surveillance cameras located on the PSA 6 edifice and on surrounding structures, the D.A.’s office said all cameras were broken and no footage existed.
After the assault, Simone Wilson, mother of Paris Wilson, coerced an inebriated friend of her son to confess to the crime but he later denied the allegations, according to the NYPD. Shockingly, Simone Wilson was never held accountable for falsifying evidence or for hindering the investigation. Nettles’ friends and family also report that Simone Wilson aggressively photographed them at Harlem Hospital, as if threatening them if they filed charges. Following a misdemeanor charge of third degree assault, Paris Wilson was immediately released from jail on a mere $2,000 bail and on November 19th even that charge was dropped due to “lack of evidence.” The D.A.’s office has since said it is “aggressively investigating the crime as a homicide,” but no suspect or statement on the progress of the investigation have been presented in the two months since the investigation began.
The Jan. 30 protest calls for the NYPD to explain its failure to immediately and adequately investigate the crime scene, question witnesses, retain DNA samples and surveillance footage, and check on Nettles’ condition, even if the crime was initially misperceived as merely an assault. We call for the NYPD to explain why Simone Wilson has never been charged with obstruction of justice. We demand that D.A. Vance provide a status report on the investigation. Finally, we call for the NYPD to audit the 24th, 26th, and 32nd Precincts and all city precincts for their capacity to conduct timely and unbiased investigations of this and all transphobic violent crimes.
“The transgender and cisgender communities together call on William Bratton and the NYPD to set an example with the Islan Nettles case by committing to seeing justice served, for Islan Nettles and all victims of transphobic violence in New York City,” said Brooke Cerda Guzman.
PROTEST: Thursday, January 30th 2014, 4 p.m., One Police Plaza, Manhattan
Take the 4,5,6, J, Z trains to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, walk on Chambers St. straight through the One Centre Street building, past the large red sculpture, to the front entrance of One Police Plaza.