Candra Keels, 20 Year Old Queer Woman of Color, Murdered in Domestic Dispute

This morning, the family of 20-year-old Candra Keels of Rochester, NY are burying their loved one who was murdered allegedly at the hands of her girlfriend.

Candra Keels
  Candra Keels Source: Legacy.com

Officers responded to 15 Denver Street about 3 A.M. for the report of a fight. There they found Candra Keels with a stab wound to her torso area.

Keels was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital, where she later died.

Sherrita Crumpler, 31, was arrested at the scene and charged with murder in the 2nd degree.

“Intimate partner violence affects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer relationships with the same, if not higher, frequency as heterosexual relationships, yet the issue is seldom addressed in national discourses,” said Osman Ahmed, NCAVP’s Research and Education Coordinator at the New York City Anti-Violence Project.  “We need more education, services, and prevention programs that seek to end IPV in LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities and provide services and support to LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of IPV.”

In NCAVP’s report Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV Affected Communities in 2013, released on October 15, 2014, there were 21 IPV homicides in 2013, the highest recorded level, equal to the 21 homicides in 2012.  This is up from 19 IPV homicides in 2011 and more than three times the 6 documented homicides in 2010.  Additionally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lesbians, gay men and bisexual people experience intimate partner violence at the same or higher rates as non-LGB people.

I was so disappointed that media coverage of this horrible tragedy used a ridiculous photo of Crumpler staring defiantly at the camera rather than a photo of Candra.

Candra was employed by a local school district which did send a letter home to parents informing them of her death and offering suggestions on how to talk with children. Candra was part of the food service team and interacted with the children. It appears the school recognizes that even this limited contact and relationship can have a profound impact on children, reminding us of the various ways that the lives and deaths in our communities do matter to all of us.

Intimate partner violence is often glossed over in discourse about violence in the LGBTQ community and in general conversation to a similar extent that intrafamily violence is also dismissed. We still wait for justice in the murder of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson allegedly at the hands of Cosby’s father who is jailed but not yet charged with murder nearly a year after the 24-year-old queer women of color were killed.

Here in Pittsburgh, we also still wait on word of the fate of 34 year old Andre Gray, a black gay man who has been reported missing since October under what appears to be violent and ugly conditions.

Candra is survived by her mother, grandmother, sisters and her daughter, Ny’ree. You can sign the memorial book here.

Rest in peace, rest in power, Candra. Your legacy will blaze on in the life of your daughter and the hundreds of children you engaged at work with a smile, a kind word or a simple acknowledgement. We will continue to seek justice for you and protect others from a similar fate.

If you or someone you love is experiencing intimate partner violence, NCAVP is working with Alternatives for Battered Women (ABW) to raise awareness of this homicide and to offer support to local communities. ABW is a resource to all survivors of intimate partner violence and domestic violence and offers counseling, education, support, and advocacy for survivors. ABW operates a free and confidential 24-hour at 585-232-7353.

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