Police in Portland, Ore., are investigating the fatal stabbing of a Black transgender woman last week at a vigil for a shooting victim.
Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears was stabbed to death July 25 at a home in northeast Portland, The Oregonian reports. A vigil had been held nearby for Tyrell Penney, a California man who was fatally shot in the area a few days earlier, and 20 to 30 people continued the vigil at the home. A fight broke out, resulting in the stabbings of Rhone-Spears and one other person, who survived, according to a Portland Police Department press release.
Emergency responders attempted lifesaving measures on Rhone-Spears, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death a homicide, the 15th in the state in July, the most in one month for more than 30 years. It was the 25th homicide of a trans American this year, with most of the victims being Black or Latinx women.
News reports gave varying ages for Rhone-Spears, but the police department said she was born in March 1986, making her 34.
Friends, family, and activists are mourning her death. “I, alongside HRC and so many others, am mourning the loss of Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears — who was not even able to attend a vigil to mourn without risk of death,” said Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement released today. “Our community needs allies. … This violence cannot continue and we must all ask ourselves why our nation is allowing this epidemic of violence to continue, and how we can come together to ensure trans people, especially Black transgender women, can live their lives without fear of joining this long list of lives stolen.”
The Portland police said anyone who has information about the incident and has not been yet contacted by investigators should contact Det. Brad Clifton at (503) 823-0696, Brad.Clifton@portlandoregon.gov, or Det. Mike Greenlee at (503) 823-0871, Michael.Greenlee@portlandoregon.gov.