Three Women

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Three transwomen whose tragedies may or may not have been related to their lives as sex workers were shot on the mean streets of Memphis in the past six months.  

Duanna Johnson was well known by Memphians from local and national coverage of her arrest for prostitution and the beating she received from police in February 2008.  http://www.nowpublic.com/world…

In Feburary of this year police offers at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis,TN were caught on camera beating a transgender woman by the name of Duanna Johnson. Johnson was hancuffed at the time and was severely beaten and called names while being detained by police. Duanna Johnson spoke to news stations in Memphis several times stating that the beating was a hate crime and that she had plans to sue the Memphis Police Department. It has been reported that just recently Ms. Johnson had gone forth with her plans to sue the city, but before her case could be heard she met her fate.

Duanna Johnson was found dead November 9, 2008 a few blocks from her home. She was shot in the head execution style.

Rumors of police affiliation with Ms. Johnson’s murder are ripping through Memphis. Some believe that Ms. Johnson was sought out and killed due to her reporting of the beating and the fact that those reports cost two Memphis police officers their jobs. Ms. Johnson’s lawyer, Murray Wells says that those accusations are just heresay, but the federal lawsuit against the Memphis Police Department will move forward.

There are more details about Duanna, her beating, and her death at http://www.lgbthatecrimes.org/…  Good-bye, Duanna.

Ebony Whitaker was murdered on July 1, 2008.  It is sad to note that both the reporter and Ebony’s family refer to “Rodney” as “him” throughout the article.  http://www.myeyewitnessnews.co…

Tears well up in Claudia Blair’s eyes when she thinks about her 20 year-old cousin, Rodney Whitaker, as a child.

“I used to change his diapers,” she says.  “He was a good child.  How all this ended up…abandoned building, clothes everywhere, condoms…he didn’t have to die like that.  He didn’t.”

Claudia and her 19 year-old daughter Porshia, say whoever killed Rodney, killed a young man with a heart of gold.  A young man, they say, whose family always suspected he was gay.

Rodney’s mug-shot, taken during a previous arrest for prostitution, shows a beautiful young African-American woman, with reddish streaks in her long blonde hair, arched brows, perfectly applied eyeshadow and lip liner and a gold necklace with tiny butterflies on it.   Rodney went by the name “Ebony” when he was dressed as a woman.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, a group out of Nashville, paid a visit to Memphis on Tuesday to attend the Memphis City Council meeting.

The president of the TTPC, Dr. Marisa Richmond, released the following statement on their website:  “We consider these two recent crimes (Duanna Johnson’s beating and Rodney Whitaker’s murder), combined with the unsolved murder of Tiffany Berry*, to be unacceptable.  The lack of response by the Memphis Police Department has set a tone in the community that the lives of transgender people, especially African-American, are irrelevant.”

Good-bye, Ebony.

*Tiffany Berry was shot to death outside her home in February 2006.  No evidence of a robbery was found.  An arrest was made, the perp was released on a $200,000 dollar bond, and while on release, murdered his two-year-old daughter.  His excuse for murdering Tiffany:  he didn’t like the way she had touched him.  http://tnimc.blogspot.com/2008…

Leeneshia Edwards lived after her attack.  Luckier than the other women, what may have been killed in her on that night bow becomes her story to tell.  http://birdofparadox.wordpress…

Another Memphis trans woman, Leeneshia Edwards, has been shot and is in a Memphis hospital in critical condition. This is the fourth hate-based shooting in less than three years (Duanna Johnson [November 2008], Ebony Whitaker [July 2008], Tiffany Berry [February 2006]) and Memphis is evidently now a very dangerous place for trans people.

Police say the shooting happened sometime around 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 23, 2008 in the 3100 block of Boxtown Road in south Memphis near T.O. Fuller State Park. Leeneshia Edwards was last seen about an hour earlier at the “C.K.’s Coffee Shop” on Union Avenue in midtown Memphis.

Edwards, is now in critical condition at “The Med”. Her cousin tells us Edwards was shot in the jaw, side and back and is undergoing multiple surgeries.

“The detective said it looked like she was turning to get out of the car and the dude shot her at close range. I just hope when she wakes up she can remember who it was,” says Nicole Holliwell.

Apparently there were no witnesses.

Happy New Year, Leeneshia.


Duanna and Ebony were 20 years old.  Leeneshia’s age was not mentioned in the articles about her shooting, possibly because she is still living.  Tiffany Berry was 21 when she died in 2006.  It is suspected that Duanna was murdered in retribution for the loss of two policemen’s jobs.  Ebony and Leeneshia are thought to have been shot by clients.  (What kind of person goes out looking for a “date” packing that kind of heat?)  

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5 comments

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    • Robyn on January 4, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I didn’t know the girl, but I knew her family

    All their lives were shattered

    in a nightmare of brutality

    They try to carry on, try to bear the agony

    Try to hold some faith

    in the goodness of humanity

  1. I haven’t been back on the computer since I posted this to see the promotion because I “had to” trip out of town with the family.

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