Islan Nettles was out in New York City with friends when a group of young men approached her, learned she was a transgender woman and began taunting and maliciously beating her—right in front of a police precinct in Harlem. The fashion design student with delicate features was punched in the face, knocked to the ground and beaten until she lost consciousness on the night of August 16.
“They were called f****, they were called he-she’s, she males, things of that nature,” Nettles’ mother told a local newscast.
Islan Nettles, born Vaughn Nettles, fell into a coma she would never awake from. She died Thursday after being taken off of life support. She was only 21.
The site of the violence, near a police station, highlights a startling increase in crimes against the LBGT, and what some view as a historic lack of police sympathy for crimes against the community.
Nettles’ alleged assailant, Paris Wilson, was booked on a misdemeanor assault charge and freed on $2,000 bail. Last Friday, Nettles’ death was officially ruled a murder. According to a spokesperson for the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Wilson has not yet been arraigned on any murder charges, telling TakePart that “charges will be updated pending further investigation.” That investigation could go on for some time. Wilson’s next scheduled court date, isn’t until October 4.
The death of Nettles may strike some as a tragic, but otherwise freak incident for a progressive city like New York—one of the birthplaces of the modern LGBT-rights movement.