By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com May 01 2012 2:45 PM ET
A transgender woman was gunned down in Oakland, Calif., over the weekend in what many believe is a hate crime. Brandy Martell, a 37-year-old educator, was shot in downtown Oakland a block from City Hall, according to Laura Anthony of San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO TV, while sitting behind the wheel of her car around 5:15 a.m. Sunday. Witnesses said Martell’s casual conversation with two men who approached her car turned deadly when one man became agitated and fired at Martell.
Martell had worked as an outreach health educator at the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont, according to Anthony. Tiffany Wood, a friend of Martell’s who serves as program coordinator for Tri-City’s TransVision program, the only program in Alameda County providing outreach and HIV prevention services to trans women, told reporters, “When you don't provide a space in society for people who you think are the other or different, especially transgender women, especially transgender women of color, when you don't provide spaces for them to be in a safe environment or a safe space, whether it's socializing or services, this is what happens.”
Friends, family, and community members gathered at the scene of the shooting for a tearful makeshift memorial just hours after her killing, while police said they were trying to piece together what led to the shooting. A conflicting report from journalist Erin Sherbert ran in SF Weekly, which indicated that Martell was actually walking rather than sitting in her car when she was shot in front of the Golden Lotus Cafe.
Oakland Occupy Patriarchy, a branch of Occupy Oakland, told Sherbert that Martell’s attacker had “become enraged and shot her when he realized she was trans.”
The police report on Martell’s death isn’t yet available and an investigator couldn't be reached for comment.