Published on June 5th, 2012 | by Wild Gender0
Friends, Family & “Gender Rebels” Celebrate the Life of Brandy Martell
OAKLAND, Ca — A “Celebration of the Life of Brandy Martell” was held last Friday for friends and loved ones of the late Ms. Martell,who was killed in downtown Oakland on April 29 in a violent hate-related crime, those closest to her suspect.
Representatives from the TransVision program as part of Tri-City Health Center, a resource center for transgender women in Alameda County where Martell worked as a peer advocate, were horrified and deeply saddened by Martell’s death. In response, the group created a “Celebration of the Life of Brandy Martell” as an opportunity for remembrance and healing for allies and members of the trans community throughout the Bay Area.
The celebration of Martell’s life was held at the Oakland Peace Center and Fellowship Hall as organized by Tiffany Woods, program director at TransVisions and Martell’s supervisor for four years. As a center for non-violence and social justice, Woods believed that the Oakland Peace Center was the best place for the celebration.
“This is not a funeral,” Woods said to the attendees, according to the Associated Press. Woods encouraged participants to remember Brandy as a witty, fun-loving mentor and neighborhood inspiration by sharing stories over photo collages of Martell that friends and coworkers from TransVisions created for the event.
At the beginning of the celebration, representatives from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s office read a statement of their condolences and reinforced their commitment to work for a safety and wellbeing of the trans community.
Earlier that day, Oakland Police Department (OPD) spokesperson Joanne Watson said the Martell acknowledged the case as still active. Saying that lead investigator, Brad Baker, is following up on all leads, with the OPD asking for assistance from any witnesses.
“We don’t have a suspect in custody, so we don’t have a witness to firm up and say now we can categorize this as a hate crime,” Watson told the Associated Press. “We still need to do more work in the investigation and have evidence present itself to steer us in that direction.”
In response to anger against the ODP for its treatment of this case and many others, plus widespread violence against trans people as perpetrated by the prison industrial complex at large, another more impromptu memorial for Martell was held as a dance party by Oakland’s self-identified “gender rebels” who recently took the streets armed with a boom box and a trail of fliers and caution tape. Nearly two hundred participants blockaded an Oakland intersection as hundreds of fliers rained from a neighboring building. A banner was dropped that read, “Oakland Rebels, Gender Rebels, FUCK OPD!”
In an attempt to draw attention to the murder of Martell, the heartbreaking imprisonment of CeCe McDonald, and the Oakland Police Department’s “atrocious” acts of violence, as described by the group, the march took over West Grand and Telegraph streets in downtown Oakland before dispersing.
“Some have said that our action, an illegal multi-racial dance party, was an inappropriate response to the murder and imprisonment of our loved ones,” writes one particular Gender Rebel of the rally. “On this point we could not disagree more. We know that dance parties, like the one outside her cell, have inspired CeCe (McDonald). Our dancing was also a celebration of Brandy’s life. It was a party to ensure that Brandy will not be forgotten. Her image will forever be burned into our minds.”
Watch a video of the dance party below.