Thousands rally throughout Brooklyn in support of Black trans lives

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An estimated 10,000 protesters took to Brooklyn streets on Saturday in support of the Black Trans Lives Matter movement.
Photo by Todd Maisel

Thousands of people took to the streets of Brooklyn Sunday as part of “Brooklyn Liberation: An Action for Black Trans Lives.”

The rally and silent march came days after two Black transgender women — Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton — were killed within 24 hours of each other.

Attendees called for justice for Fells and Milton, as well as Tony McDade, a transgender man who was fatally shot by a Tallahassee police officer; Layleen Polanco, a transgender woman who died while in solitary confinement on Rikers Island; and Nina Pop, a transgender woman who was stabbed to death in Missouri.

Protesters made their way to Fort Greene Park.Photo by Todd Maisel

The day of protest coincided with continuous Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, and also came near the midway point of Pride Month.

A majority of the rally-goers wore white, as the event’s flyer called for, in solidarity with the movement. An estimated 10,000 people descended upon the Brooklyn Museum before branching off in different directions, many making their way down DeKalb Avenue to Fort Greene Park.

Thousands pour into Fort Greene Park.Photo by Todd Maisel

The rally was held in partnership with the Okra Project, Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Glits, For The Gworls, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts.

“Today, I call upon each and every one of you to make a commitment,” Ianne Fields Stewart, founder of the Okra Project, told the crowd at the Brooklyn Museum. “Today, I urge you to commit that today is the very last day that transphobia will claim the lives, loves and joys of Black trans people. For too long, Black trans people have fought for our unity, and for too long, [cisgender] people have been acting like they ain’t know what the f— we’re talking about.”

The Okra Project, which Fields started to help address food insecurity within the trans community, recently dedicated $15,000 to memorial funds for McDade and Pop.

“It is the last day,” Fields reiterated to cheers. “Today is the last day that Black non-binary people feel forced to fit themselves into a binary that doesn’t exist. Today is the last day that cis people use trans people as an encyclopedia when Google is right there. Today is the last day and today I demand that you commit that there will be no more hashtags … Transphobia ends today.”

There were no reports of any arrests following the day of peaceful protesting.

Dance parties broke out along the way.Photo by Todd Maisel