Published on May 29th, 2012 | by Wild Gender1
Victoria Carmen White’s Murder Trial & the Prison Industrial Complex
ESSEX, N.J. — Mainstream media is reporting on the murder trial of Victoria Carmen White (after virtually not reporting on her life and death whatsoever back in 2010 when it occurred) after a New Jersey man was acquitted of her murder on in a Essex County court on Friday.
On Sept. 12 2010, White met Alrashim Chambers and Marquise Foster at bar then the group went with them to her cousin’s apartment. At the time, two other women, including White’s cousin were also in the apartment. According to reports, the women said they heard someone yell “you a dude?” and heard gunshots, but they could not identify the speaker or the shooter.
Following testimony, a jury in Essex County found Alrashim Chambers, 25, of Newark, not guilty of murder, bias intimidation, and two weapons charges, says New Jersey’s Star-Ledger. Chambers, who took the stand in his own defense, denied having anything to do with the killing and accused Foster, who took a plea deal in exchange for testimony against Chambers.
Prosecutor Eileen O’Connor said White’s gender identity provided the only motive for her killing, the Star-Ledger reports. O’Connor also told the paper that she and White’s family were disappointed in the verdict, “but we put forth all the evidence in the case and did the best we could under the circumstances.”
According to a 2009 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report, trans victims (in ’09) represented 17-percent of the violence enacted against LGBT persons annually and of those, transgender women were targeted for hate-motivated violence up to 65-percent of the time. And of the 22 anti-LGBTQ murders reported in 2009, 79-percent of those people were transgender women of color.
“In theory, hate crime legislation has been created to protect the rights of individuals who have been victimized by hate-motivated violence. However, this legislation also enforces extremely narrow, binary views of identity,” writes Lori A. Saffin, in their article “Identities Under Siege: Violence Against Transpersons of Color,” published in Captive Genders.
“Because of the interconnectedness of racism, classism, and heterosexism, hate crimes against queers of color are not individual acts of violence but larger structural inequities that disproportionately target specific groups of people,” writes Saffin. “The legal system enacts its own form of violence against LGBT persons of color, and this has direct implications on how hate crimes are tried and which cases are publicized.”
Saffin quotes a recent GenderPAC report that regarding cases of violence against queers, only 11 victims generated sustained media coverage, and then only when an arrest or public trial was involved. The thirty-two non-trial murders averaged only a single 500-word article and 24-percent of victims received no coverage at all.
“While national LGBT groups rely on political projects that further hate crimes legislation, they are feeding the prison industrial complex,” writes Saffin. “Hate crimes legislation is punitive in that it is only enacted after someone is harmed or murdered. This does not tackle the structural roots of transphobia or homophobia but simply puts people who are found guilty of committing these crimes behind bars…passing hate crimes legislation to protect queer folks after they have been harmed is only feeding a racist, classist, and transphobic/homophobic industry that disproportionately targets and publishes those with fewer resources.”