On June 6, 2020, the body of an unidentified young Black trans person was found in an abandoned building at 7908 S Laflin in Chicago.
Koko Nia Labeija was born 29 May 2001 in Chicago where she grew up. She attended Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School The school held a memorial event this past Friday. She worked at Oberweis Creamery. She described herself as “a makeup artist in the making.” She was a fan of the Kardashians.
Her Twitter profile reads:
“Hey guys and gals. I love the Kardashians/Jenners. My favorite word is Bible. I love Fashion and makeup. Peace out.”
The message also said that her page on tdor.translivesmatter.info (which listed her as “Name Unknown”) was key to her identification in the city morgue (which had predictably misgendered her). Visibility of victims matters so, so much.
How very sad that it took a year or longer to identify Koko. And we still don’t know how long she had been dead or how she ended up there. Here last post on Facebook was May 5 and her body was discovered on June 6, 2020. But it is a testament to the power of community reporting that the truth surfaced. And we can now say her name and push the Chicago police to investigate further the death of a teenaged Black trans woman.
I struggle to understand that the police did not even consider that her identity was female or nonbinary especially given that she was wearing clothing considered women’s, including Pink-Colored Lycra Shorts. That resonates so visually in my mind. I flashback to the 2013 murder of Cemia Dove whose body was found tied to concrete while “clad in a red Betty Boop tank top, three black bras and a light black hooded jacket.” Beyond the deliberate indignity, I carry just this intense memory of the colors.
Rest in power, Koko. We failed you repeatedly, even as you walked through this world seeing beauty. Your life and death matter.
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.
- Tyianna Davarea Alexandra – Chicago, Illinois. January 6, 2021. Age 28.
- Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín – Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. January 9, 2021. Age 21.
- Dominique Jackson – Jackson, Mississippi. January 25, 2021. Age 30.
- Bianca ‘Muffin’ Bankz – Atlanta, Georgia. January 21, 2021. Age 31.
- Fifty Bandzzz – Baton Rouge, Louisiana. January 28, 2021. Age 21.
- Alexus “Kimmy” Braxton – Miami, Florida. February 4, 2021. Age 45.
- Chynaa Carrillo – New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. February 18, 2021. Age 24.
- Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright – Ambridge, Pennsylvania. February 22, 2021. Age 16.
- Jasmine Cannady – Ambridge, Pennsylvania. February 22, 2021. Age 22.
- Jenna Franks – Jacksonville, North Carolina, February 24, 2021. Age 34. **
- Diamond Nicole ‘Kyree’ Sanders – Cincinnati, Ohio. March 3, 2021. Age 23.
- Rayanna Pardo – Los Angeles, California, March 17, 2021. Age 26. ***
- Aidelen Evans – Port Arthur, Texas, March 2021. Age 24 ****
- Dominique Lucious – Springfield, Missouri, April 8, 2021. Age 26.
** Jenna’s death was originally reported as suspicious, but has since been reported as a homicide. *** Rayanna’s cause of death was originally undetermined, but has since been reported as a homicide. **** Aidelen’s cause of death was unspecified, but has since been reported as a homicide
We are also still monitoring these supicious deaths from 20/21 (in addition to the 44 documented killings.)
- Fendi Mon’ezah Armstrong – Lithonia, Georgia, November 11, 2020. Age 39
- Kimberely Patricia Cope – Athens, Georgia, December 27, 2020. Age 40.
- Natasha Keianna – Detroit, Michigan, January 12, 2021. Age 37.
- Bonaire ‘Bonnie’ Black – Atlanta, Georgia, December 31, 2020. Age 19.
- Koko Nia Labeija – Chicago, Illinois, Found June 2020, Identified April 2021, Age 19.