Bonnie was born in Savannah and moved to Atlanta at age 17 to find her way in the world. Being misgendered and deadnamed in her obituary perhaps hints at why she made that decision. She spent two years working to find housing and employment with the support of Covenant House. On December 31, she was found dead on the third floor of the parking garage at the Georgian Terrace on Peachtree Street in Midtown, according to an incident report. An employee found her laying under a blanket with her fist clenched at about 2:30 p.m., according to Project Q. Law enforcement has said that her death was due to natural causes. Autopsy results are not available and neither are the toxicology reports that typically take weeks. But Bonnie’s friends believe she met with foul play.
“What we’re hearing is that a guy at the party, they got in some kind of argument, and he broke her neck,” said Marshall Rancifer of the Justice for All Coalition. “She had dreams and aspirations that are not going to come to fruition – all because some stupid son of a bitch decided to take her life over an argument,” he added. Jesse Pratt López, a trans activist and founder of the Trans Housing Coalition, also said Black was murdered. “Details surrounding her death are unclear and the assailant has not been caught,” López wrote in a Facebook post.
It is hard to imagine how you end up under a blanket in a garage and dying naturally at age 19. Even assuming she chose to sleep there due to limited options as a homeless young woman, why would she die naturally? Perhaps an underlying medical issue? The allegation that her neck was broken would have been easy to confirm or deny after the autopsy so why no clarification to tamp down the rumors?
Sadly Bonnie was misgendered and deadnamed by law enforcement, media, and in her obituary. Friends, however, have started a tribute group on Facebook to honor her lived experience. They organized a memorial service in mid-January and another balloon drop later in the month, close to her birthday.
She was 19. She died too soon, period. She didn’t deserve to live in the street. She didn’t deserve to end up described as a body found in a parking garage. She was a kid and we lose sight of that in these conversations. Bonnie deserved a loving and secure home that was warm, filled with nourishing foods, and safe. She deserved to make her own choices, but to HAVE options to chose from.
Rest in power, Bonnie. The people who loved you continue to lift up your name and search for accountability in your death. You deserved many years of light and love. I am so sorry. May your memory be a revolution.
This is our list of transgender, gender-nonconforming, and non-binary neighbors lost to violence in 2021. Please do not copy or share this list without attribution.
We are also still monitoring these supicious deaths from 2020 (in addition to the 44 documented killings.)