Melvin was homeless, and often wore women’s clothing to earn a living causing early reports to identify him as potentially a member of the transgender community. Friends of Melvin, however, insist that he did not identify as transgender. The Detroit Police Department (DPD) is not releasing Melvin’s legal name out of respect for his family.
“When they arrived at the scene they found a black male in 30s dressed in women’s clothing, fatally shot,” said Officer Danielle Woods.
“We have no words to describe the inexplicable and heart wrenching pain we are feeling right now,” said Yvonne Siferd, Esq., director of Victim Services at Equality Michigan. “We can, however, articulate our outrage over this epidemic of violence aimed at our community. Enough is enough. As mainstream communities use our lives and our bodies as political fodder and comedy, our people are dying in brutal and violent attacks. We are not the problem. In the land of the free, we should be able to express our authentic selves freely and without fear for our physical safety, but this is not our reality. In the land of the brave, we lead the way. Because in this world, openly expressing your gender or sexual orientation in a way that mainstream society regularly demeans, discounts, and objectifies is revolutionary.”
Equality Michigan, the statewide anti-violence and advocacy organization serving Michigan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV communities, say they support victims of anti-LGBTQ crime and tracks violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people. “We applaud DPD’s efforts to bring the perpetrator to justice, and ask for anyone with any information to speak out.”
DPD is working to establish an advisory committee that will help police reach out to members of the LGBT community.