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Protesters block traffic, highlight violence against transgender people

Trangender rally
Jennicet Gutierrez, left, and Johanna Saavedra stand in the middle of the intersection at 3rd Street and La Cienega Boulevard to protest violence against transgender people.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Dozens of transgender activists shut down the intersection of 3rd Street and La Cienega Boulevard outside the Beverly Center for about half an hour Friday evening.

The protest, called Spring into Love, was organized by advocacy groups to protest violence against transgender people. Since June, at least four transgender women have been killed in violent incidents in Southern California.

At the protest, horns blared and a police helicopter circled overhead. Protesters marched into the center of the intersection, shouting “Trans lives matter!” Some protesters wearing fake blood lay down in the center of the road.

Los Angetes police officers eventually ordered the protesters from the street. The protesters complied, moving to the sidewalks where the rally continued. There did not appear to be any arrests.

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“I’m here to bring respect to the trans people getting killed. This has to stop. We need justice and dignity for all communities,” said Johanna Saavedra, a transgender woman from North Hollywood.

There has been a string of killings of transgender women in Southern California in recent months.

On Jan. 31, Yasmin Vash Payne, 33, was found dead on the kitchen floor of a burning Van Nuys apartment with multiple stab wounds. Deshawnda “Ta-Ta” Sanchez, 21, was shot in Chesterfield Square in December. On a 911 call, she told a police dispatcher that she had been attacked and robbed. The phone went silent after gunshots were fired.

In October, Aniya Knee Parker, 47, was shot in East Hollywood after a struggle over her purse.

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The body of 28-year-old transgender activist Zoraida Reyes was found in June in the parking lot of an Anaheim Dairy Queen. After making an arrest months later, prosecutors said she had been choked to death and kept in the trunk of a car before being dumped behind the restaurant.

Studies show that transgender women -- especially those of color, who experience high levels of poverty -- are more likely to be victims of violence and harassment.

In 2015 alone, at least eight transgender women and gender non-conforming people have been killed across the United States, according to the National LGBTQ Task Force.

The number could be higher because many law enforcement agencies don’t keep track of transgender killings.

Twitter: @haileybranson | Google+


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