So. Florida Continues to Seek Justice for Slain Teen

No one has come forward in the murder of teenager Simmie Williams, who was slain a year ago in Fort Lauderdale, but many in the community still continue the fight to find his killer.

BY Michelle Garcia

February 27 2009 12:00 AM ET

A year ago this week,
17-year-old Simmie Williams, a culinary school hopeful still
attempting to forge an identity for himself on his own terms,
was gunned down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Fifty-two weeks later,
a murder suspect has yet to be named, and
Williams's death has become symbolic in the southern
Florida community -- not only among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgender people, but among communities of color -- of the
inequalities of justice.

Williams was killed
near Sistrunk Boulevard and Northwest 10th Avenue, an area
known as a gathering point for transgender people. Williams was
walking with friends along Sistrunk on February 22, 2008. An
attacker shouted words, and a shot was fired, catching Williams
under his arm, according to the
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

newspaper. The bullet went straight to his heart, causing him
to collapse in seconds.

Though police say
Williams was found wearing feminine clothing, Michael Rajner, a
local activist who is close to the case, says that the
description of Williams's garments was sensationalized.

"In reality,
[Williams] was gender-questioning, and was actually found in a
T-shirt that was tied in a knot, not a dress," Rajner
said. "How did the media even distort this into something
that this wasn't? How did law enforcement distort
it?"

Williams would also go
by the names Chris and Beyoncé. His mother, Denise
King, said that she knew Simmie was gay; she said she had to
pull him out of school for being bullied so frequently. His
case is not unique -- about a quarter of black LGBT students
have missed classes or at least one day of school for fear of
being harassed, according to a study by the Gay, Lesbian, and
Straight Education Network released in January. Students who
are harassed and then miss school are also more likely to see a
drop in grades. Rather than complete high school, Williams was
planning to earn his GED and then go on to culinary school.

"When you look at
it, it could happen again," King said to reporters at a
vigil on February 22. "And it's going to be somebody
else's child and they will want somebody to step up and
speak."

Tags: Crime

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