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Trans Woman Stabbed to Death at Vigil in Portland, Oregon

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday August 6, 2020

Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears
Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears  

A 34-year-old transgender woman of color was stabbed and killed on July 28 at a vigil in Portland, Oregon, that was being held for another victim of homicide.

Local news channel KATU reported that Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears was attending a vigil for murder victim Tyrell Penny, who was shot on July 27. The vigil was taking place at a private home in Portland. The news report said 20-to-30 people were there.

KUTV added that "a large disturbance happened involving multiple vigil participants, and two people were stabbed," one of them being Rhone-Spears, who "was pronounced dead at the scene."

Authorities have yet to identify suspects in the slaying. Them reports that "Although there were multiple witnesses to Rhone-Spears' killing, police say they were hostile and uncooperative."

LGBTQ advocacy organization The Human Rights Campaign, which has tracked lethal anti-trans violence since 2013, noted that Spears was the 26th transgender or gender-nonconforming murder victim this year. The actual number could well be higher, the HRC said, because "too often these stories go unreported - or misreported."

The HRC added that "advocates have never seen such a high number [of trans murder victims] at this point in the year" during the seven years the organization has tracked such instances of deadly violence.

Rhone-Spears' family has established a GoFundMe page to raise funds for "a celebration of her life." Kwasi Spears, who set up the page, wrote: I want to have a fatty party to send my sister off with a bang."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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