Cold weather couldn’t keep a group of Virginia Commonwealth University students from remembering individuals killed due to anti-transgender violence.
Queer Action, a student-run LGBTQ rights group at VCU, held a candlelight vigil at the VCU amphitheater on Sunday night as part of the Richmond Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Across the nation, candlelight vigils are being held this weekend through the 20th. Here at VCU Monroe Park Campus, students are gathered together, candles in hand, taking turns reading the names of those who have passed away since 1970.
April Marie Walker, a resident of Church Hill who was murdered in 2005, is one of those names. Walker was found killed in his Creighton Court apartment in July, 2005.
Event organizer Amber McNeal said it was important to remember and bring awareness to transgender individuals who have lost their lives from acts of hatred.
McNeal and other students dedicated hours to organize the event. Every year they have to add more names to the memorial boards. “It takes about a day to cross reference and add names to our existing boards,” she said. “There are upwards of 500 names from the Trans Murder Monitoring Project that we don’t currently have listed.”
“We at Queer Action represent all LGBTQ identities equally,” McNeal added. “We are holding this event for transgender people because there is so much violence against them and it doesn’t get attention.”
Louis Alexis, a student at VCU and one of four students holding the memorial boards, echoed McNeal’s thoughts.
“I came because it is tragic that this isn’t brought out into the light. People need to be more conscious about what is happening,” said Alexis when explaining why the vigil is important. “I believe nobody should be forgotten” he said, a sentiment many at the event shared.
Victoria Shampine, of Richmond, attended to show solidarity and support. “They deserve to be respected and honored,” she said.
“These are people. They are not just names.”
The Richmond Transgender Day of Remembrance continues with events through Tuesday 11/20. Check out our preview here for more info.