By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com May 30 2014 8:31 AM ET
Local activists are demanding accountability for a group of Atlanta men who attacked two transgender women on the city's MARTA rail system May 20.
The altercation, which lasted more than two minutes and was captured on cell phone video by multiple passengers — none of whom intervened — began with two transgender women of color exchanging heated words with a number of men on the commuter train. One man can be seen kicking one of the women, after which more of the men pile on, physically assaulting both women, and stripping one of them completely naked. As this occurs, the crowd can be heard shouting.
"[They] just kept of asking us was we real," Janell Crosby, one of the women involved in the attack told WSB TV. "Like really trying to get us. 'Are you real?' 'Are y'all this or that?' Just trying to embarass us."
"They were trying to find out if we are men or women," Tyra Woods told reporters, noting that the verbal harassment began while the women were waiting for the train to arrive. "I shouldn't have to disclose who I am to an innocent person who I'm not even interested in talking to."
"Nobody tried to help. They were all standing up on chairs videotaping," Crosby told the GA Voice. "That's how it ended up on so many [web]sites. I told one cop who was following us to the gate. He acted like he didn't want to hear from us. He didn't write any statement or anything."
According to transit authority spokesman Lyle Harris, an investigation into the incident is under way, albeit with less than full cooperation.
"The investigation into this incident is ongoing," Harris told Project Q Atlanta. "We have since tried to interview some of those involved, including the victims, and they have not been cooperative. We couldn't find anyone that night."
Harris confirmed that while MARTA did receive a report that there was a conflict on board one of the trains, officers hadn't been successful in getting victims to speak with authorities. He disputed Crosby's claim that she sought out an officer that evening, saying, "That does not appear to be true. We have no reason to believe that was the case."
Video of the incident, broadcast by local news outlets, has led to the arrest of one man. Police apprehended Luther L. Thomas, a 34-year-old Atlanta resident for involvement in the attacks, allegedly caught punching Crosby on video.
The activist organizaion Solutions Not Punishments Coalition continues to press for action in the wake of these attacks, demanding that the city take steps to protect LGBT citizens from such assaults.
"The City of Atlanta should be deeply disturbed by the acts of harassment and violence endured by trans* women both at the hands of the Atlanta Police Department in Midtown and other neighborhoods that have been recently been brought to light and by the general public on trains, buses, and on the streets," SNaP said in a press release. "Our lives matter, trans* lives matter, and we will no longer be silent or swept aside. Enough is enough!"
Just yesterday, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs issued its annual report on anti-LGBT hate violence for 2013, with a sobering 2,001 reported incidents recorded.
Watch WSB TV's report on the attack below. The original, uncensored video can be found at FlyVidz.com.