Alexa Negrón Luciano, transgender and homeless, walked the streets of Puerto Rico neighborhoods hunched over, with a extensive towel covering her jet-black tresses.
She was a perfectly-acknowledged figure on Puerto Rico social media, exactly where individuals usually posted images and remarks mocking her as a thing of an oddball bag woman.
On Sunday, the mockery turned deadly. Someone posted photographs of Ms. Negrón being questioned by the police for supposedly peeping at one more buyer in a women’s lavatory at a fast-foodstuff restaurant, and the post went viral. Not 12 hours afterwards, she was framed in the headlights of a vehicle and shot to death amid a cackle of laughter — her ultimate moments seemingly also posted on social media.
At 27, Ms. Negrón became the hottest example in a long legacy of violence versus gay and transgender men and women in Puerto Rico.
“This is violence in opposition to girls, without having a doubt,” mentioned Gov. Wanda Vázquez, describing the circumstance as “sad, cruel and insensitive.” The governor, who is the former top rated prosecutor on the island, claimed the killing would be investigated as a detest crime.
Ms. Negrón’s death has come to be a flash place in a long-operating debate about yrs of fatal assaults on gay and transgender folks in Puerto Rico.
If the movie is reliable, Ms. Negrón’s killers ended up comfortable ample to history them selves, a fact that group activists said underscores the impunity homophobic attackers feel when committing this sort of crimes.
Even as general public attitudes towards gay and transgender people today have shifted globally, together with in Puerto Rico, a little cadre of highly effective conservative Christians on the island continue being vocal about pushing back again against moves to be far more inclusive.
A challenge to carry out sensitivity education for the law enforcement obtained minimal traction, and a proposed gender-centered curriculum for general public colleges was stopped in its tracks following opposition from religious leaders, claimed Thomas J. Bryan, a lawyer who labored on the concern for years prior to leaving for Florida immediately after Hurricane Maria.
“The problem in Puerto Rico arrives from a team of fundamentalist spiritual leaders who are versus any progressive plan to take care of this kind of situation,” Mr. Bryan claimed. “This is what delivers this intolerance out to the open up, this variety of homophobia.”
The case has transfixed Puerto Rico, and caught recognize on Wednesday on the presidential campaign path. “I’m heartsick for Alexa and her loved ones,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote on Twitter. “This epidemic retains rising.”
Interest to the violence directed at homosexual people today in Puerto Rico very first transpired in the 1980s, when a guy called “Angel of the Bachelors” went on a killing spree, buying up homosexual gentlemen at bars and killing them. The law enforcement did not begin paying out focus right until a distinguished journalist was stabbed to demise in 1985, stated Pedro Julio Serrano, a leading gay legal rights activist in Puerto Rico.
“These crimes are not only committed in opposition to the sufferer that is the goal,” he reported. “It’s a criminal offense that sends a message to a complete sector of the local community that they are in danger. It’s putting you in your area.”
The serial killer, Ángel Colón Maldonado, is serving a lifetime sentence for 3 murders, but was suspected in 27 a lot more cases. In a latest job interview, he explained he was guided by the Bible.
Fifteen decades immediately after the conviction, Puerto Rico legislators handed a detest crime monthly bill, but prosecutors rarely use it, Mr. Serrano stated.
In 2009, a gender nonconforming teenager named Jorge Steven López, who generally wore women’s outfits, was decapitated, dismembered and set ablaze. The international condemnation that adopted turned Mr. López into Puerto Rico’s version of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming scholar whose death in 1998 brought on federal dislike crime legislation.
Mr. López’s killer pleaded responsible soon after expressing he committed the criminal offense in a panic immediately after finding Mr. López up for sexual intercourse and discovering he was a gentleman.
In the two decades right after that attack, at the very least 18 extra homosexual and transgender individuals had been killed in unrelated conditions, prosecutors stated at the time.
“After that we had like at minimum a dozen dislike crimes, murders, for about five many years in a row. And there were being decades that we had two dozen or extra,” Mr. Serrano reported. “There was like an epidemic, likely simply because far more people would determine the victims as L.G.B.T., and the community was offering far more details.”
Several of the killers were being apprehended and prosecuted, whilst the cases were not dealt with as detest crimes, he mentioned.
Spiritual leaders from about the island have spoken out towards Ms. Negrón’s loss of life, but some have also criticized Mr. Serrano. A single spiritual leader, César Vázquez, who is functioning for governor, claimed Mr. Serrano took advantage of substantial-profile killings to inflate his personal profile.
A further legislator who opposed some of the measures to defend the gay and transgender neighborhood, María M. Charbonier, condemned Ms. Negrón’s killing but instructed that transgender individuals ought to adhere to the bathrooms that match their anatomy.
“I am a woman,” she claimed in a radio job interview. “I do not enter men’s bogs.”
At minimum 26 transgender or gender nonconforming persons were killed in 2019 across the United States, the huge bulk of them black, the Human Rights Campaign stated in a report unveiled in November.
Ms. Negrón’s body was located early Monday on the side of the street in Toa Baja, about 15 miles west of San Juan, the law enforcement explained.
Law enforcement officers had questioned her at 5:15 p.m. the former working day following a person termed the police from a nearby McDonald’s, saying that Ms. Negrón had crouched beneath the toilet doorway with a mirror to spy on ladies in the women’s restroom. When the law enforcement arrived, the human being who experienced known as said she was not intrigued in pressing charges, explained Capt. Ricardo Haddock of the Puerto Rico Police investigations device.
When police questioned her, Ms. Negrón gave her identify as Neulisa Luciano Ruiz.
Then at 3:50 a.m. on Monday, law enforcement gained an anonymous tip about a human body on the facet of the street about a mile from the McDonald’s. It was Ms. Negrón, and she had been shot quite a few instances in numerous parts of her overall body, Captain Haddock stated.
He stated the police are not able to categorize the death as a detest crime right up until a motive was obviously proven. He reported that recommendations ended up currently being investigated, but that the police have not determined any feasible assailants.
“The video clip is being analyzed. We are waiting for certification to figure out whether it is authentic,” he reported. “It does seem to be serious.”