This past Friday, February 23, 2018, Phylicia Mitchell was shot and killed in front her Cleveland home at 6 PM in the evening. She was shot about 6 p.m. Friday on West 112th Street near Detroit Avenue, in the Edgewater neighborhood of Cleveland, according to police reports. No arrests have been made and the shooting remains under investigation.
Phylicia whose maiden name was Phylicia Brown Coulverson was a Pittsburgh native. She relocated to Cleveland where she worked as a hair stylist. She was a graduate of Perry Traditional Academy.
Phylicia’s long-time partner, Shane Mitchell, told LGBTQ Nation that they had first met 30 years ago and worked together build relationships with his family.
The hairstylist was remembered by her longtime partner, Shane Mitchell, who said the pair had battled through homelessness and drug addiction together, as a loving and kind person.
“She was a good person, even though she had a drug problem, she’s a good person,” Mitchell said. “She got mixed up with the wrong people.”
While the couple never married, Phylicia took Shane’s last name, and he said they considered themselves husband and wife, and even had a small dedication ceremony at a local church in May.
Phylicia was described by friends at SisTers Pgh as a ‘dear friend’ alongside a call that justice be upheld.
This epidemic of unrelenting homicidal violence against the trans community has hit home for Pittsburgh. Again, I’m sure, as we probably just don’t know about the neighbors whose lives have already been taken. But now we do know. We can’t continue to bury our heads in the sand about the violence our actual neighbors experience every single day and still call ourselves credible allies.
We talk about the epidemic of opioids destroying the lives of suburban youth with some compassion, but there are those reading this post who will focus on the claim that Phylicia was involved with unspecified drugs as the cause of her death and/or the focus of their justification not to demand justice in her name. So let’s remember that while her partner is the source of that information, we don’t know any details about her health history. We also don’t know what actually happened at her home. Her partner also alleged that Phylicia ran away from a dysfunctional family in Pittsburgh and I’m pretty sure no one in Pittsburgh is going to pick that up and run with it to talk about the lifelong impact of family rejection or acceptance. Except the people who already are talking about it. Regardless of her history of drug use, regardless of what activity was happening in her home, regardless of the people she fell in with – she deserved to live.
We do know that Phylicia was part of Pittsburgh. And she’s the latest Black woman from Pittsburgh, not even the only one this week, to die a violent death. She’s not even the only trans woman whose death has been reported this week.
Rest in power, Phylicia. You will be remembered by us and we will continue to strive for justice and safety in your name. You deserved so much better.
I had the sad duty of informing some local community members about Phylicia’s death. This is one of the most difficult posts I’ve written; Phylicia was my age. She possibly lived here on the Northside of Pgh where I live now. We likely grew up in adjacent, but separate Pittsburghs. I will follow this story, both in terms of the police investigation and if there are final arrangements or vigils planned.
If you are struggling or knew Phylicia, please reach out for support to a local organization that can walk with you.
The list of trans people killed in 2018 thus far. Note that people have different numbers based on different factors. The most important thing that unites us all is that we want the violence to stop. We need to keep asking ‘Where is the outrage?’ During 2017, we lost at least 25 trans neighbors. May 2018 be more merciful.
- Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien – Massachusetts (January 6) 42 years old
- Viccky Gutierrez – Los Angeles (January 9), 33 years old
- Tonya ‘Kita’ Harvey – Buffalo (February 6), 35 years old
- Celine Walker – Jacksonville, Florida (February 4), 36 years old
- Phylicia Mitchell – Cleveland (February 23), 46 years old