Local police in Arkansas are treating the death of a 17-year-old transgender Black woman as a homicide. The body of Brayla Stone was found in a car on a walking path in the Little Rock suburb of Sherwood last Thursday, and a person on social media later claimed he was paid five thousand dollars to kill her.
“Brayla Stone is the 4th trans woman killed this month,” David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a statement.* “Brayla Stone was seventeen years young when someone murdered her because we live in a society where it is not yet explicit that when we say BlackLivesMatter we mean all Black lives, which includes Black trans women and girls.”
A person claiming to be Stone’s killer boasted about the crime. Screen captures of the deleted video showed a pile of $100 bills with “$5k” superimposed in red text. In the comments, the poster then claims he “zipped em for 5k” and that it was “Money Well Spent.”
Trans activist and journalist Ashlee Marie Preston was among those calling attention to Stone's murder and the need for action. She also challenged media who insisted on using “her birth name instead of her REAL name,” in reference to the decision to use Stone’s deadname and pronouns at the request of her family.
Local groups are responding with a candle-light vigil for this evening at Boyle Park in Little Rock. And a Change.org petition already has over 100,000 signatures at the time of publication.
Johns pointed out the need to find protections for trans folks under the increasing threat of hate and violence against their persons.
“Both the continued tragic and often silent loss of Black trans, Black queer, and Black non-binary lives as well as the continued adultification of Black girls should be lost on no one—especially as we celebrate the 51st anniversary of Pride and the Stonewall resistance,” Johns said. “As mostly white reporters and the white-led media outlets they work for write think pieces about all of the gains white gays have claimed, and as people continue to risk their lives to demand for shifts in policy and practice that acknowledge and protect all Black Lives, especially Black trans women and girls.
*Note: This story was updated after the number of trans killings was misreported by the National Black Justice Coalition.