Alexa Negrón Luciano, transgender and homeless, walked the streets of Puerto Rico neighborhoods hunched in excess of, with a extensive towel covering her jet-black tresses.
She was a perfectly-acknowledged determine on Puerto Rico social media, in which men and women frequently posted photos and feedback mocking her as a little something of an oddball bag lady.
On Sunday, the mockery turned deadly. Someone posted photographs of Ms. Negrón being questioned by the law enforcement for supposedly peeping at a further customer in a women’s bathroom at a rapid-foods restaurant, and the post went viral. Not 12 several hours afterwards, she was framed in the headlights of a motor vehicle and shot to dying amid a cackle of laughter — her ultimate times seemingly also posted on social media.
At 27, Ms. Negrón grew to become the latest case in point in a extensive legacy of violence towards homosexual and transgender men and women in Puerto Rico.
“This is violence against girls, without a doubt,” said Gov. Wanda Vázquez, describing the scenario as “sad, cruel and insensitive.” The governor, who is the previous major prosecutor on the island, mentioned the killing would be investigated as a dislike criminal offense.
If the video clip is genuine, Ms. Negrón’s killers were at ease plenty of to report them selves, a fact that community activists said underscores the impunity homophobic attackers really feel when committing these crimes.
Even as general public attitudes toward homosexual and transgender folks have shifted globally, like in Puerto Rico, a tiny cadre of potent conservative Christians on the island continue being vocal about pushing again against moves to be a lot more inclusive.
A challenge to conduct sensitivity instruction for the law enforcement obtained minimal traction, and a proposed gender-dependent curriculum for general public universities was stopped in its tracks soon after opposition from religious leaders, mentioned Thomas J. Bryan, a attorney who labored on the concern for many years in advance of leaving for Florida right after Hurricane Maria.
“The problem in Puerto Rico comes from a team of fundamentalist religious leaders who are against any progressive concept to solve this kind of condition,” Mr. Bryan claimed. “This is what delivers this intolerance out to the open, this type of homophobia.”
The situation has transfixed Puerto Rico, and caught detect on Wednesday on the presidential marketing campaign path. “I’m heartsick for Alexa and her beloved ones,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote on Twitter. “This epidemic keeps developing.”
Notice to the violence directed at gay people today in Puerto Rico initial happened in the 1980s, when a guy known as “Angel of the Bachelors” went on a killing spree, selecting up gay males at bars and killing them. The law enforcement did not get started paying attention until a popular journalist was stabbed to demise in 1985, claimed Pedro Julio Serrano, a foremost homosexual rights activist in Puerto Rico.
“These crimes are not only fully commited against the victim that is the focus on,” he said. “It’s a crime that sends a information to a whole sector of the local community that they are in threat. It is placing you in your position.”
The serial killer, Ángel Colón Maldonado, is serving a lifestyle sentence for a few murders, but was suspected in 27 a lot more situations. In a current job interview, he said he was guided by the Bible.
Fifteen years soon after the conviction, Puerto Rico legislators passed a detest crime bill, but prosecutors not often use it, Mr. Serrano explained.
In 2009, a gender nonconforming teen named Jorge Steven López, who usually wore women’s outfits, was decapitated, dismembered and established ablaze. The global condemnation that followed turned Mr. López into Puerto Rico’s edition of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming university student whose demise in 1998 induced federal hate crime legislation.
Mr. López’s killer pleaded responsible, indicating he fully commited the criminal offense in a panic after picking Mr. López up for sex and exploring he was a man.
In the two decades after that assault, at the very least 18 more homosexual and transgender men and women were killed in unrelated situations, prosecutors mentioned at the time.
“After that we had like at the very least a dozen detest crimes, murders, for about 5 decades in a row. And there were being decades that we had two dozen or more,” Mr. Serrano stated. “There was like an epidemic, probably for the reason that much more persons would establish the victims as L.G.B.T., and the local community was supplying much more details.”
Numerous of the killers were apprehended and prosecuted, even though the conditions were being not dealt with as detest crimes, he explained.
Spiritual leaders from close to the island have spoken out towards Ms. Negrón’s demise, but some have also criticized Mr. Serrano. Just one religious chief, César Vázquez, who is functioning for governor, claimed Mr. Serrano took gain of higher-profile killings to inflate his very own profile.
Another legislator who opposed some of the steps to secure the homosexual and transgender local community, María M. Charbonier, condemned Ms. Negrón’s killing but advised that transgender persons need to stick to the bathrooms that match their anatomy.
“I am a lady,” she explained in a radio job interview. “I do not enter men’s bogs.”
At the very least 26 transgender or gender nonconforming men and women had been killed in 2019 across the United States, the wide vast majority of them black, the Human Rights Campaign said in a report launched in November.
Ms. Negrón’s entire body was discovered early Monday on the side of the road in Toa Baja, about 15 miles west of San Juan, the law enforcement stated.
Law enforcement officers experienced questioned her at 5:15 p.m. the prior working day right after somebody called the law enforcement from a nearby McDonald’s, declaring that Ms. Negrón experienced crouched beneath the lavatory doorway with a mirror to spy on females in the women’s restroom. When the law enforcement arrived, the human being who had identified as reported she was not interested in pressing expenses, explained Capt. Ricardo Haddock of the Puerto Rico Police investigations device.
When police questioned her, Ms. Negrón gave her name as Neulisa Luciano Ruiz.
Then at 3:50 a.m. on Monday, police been given an anonymous suggestion about a body on the facet of the street about a mile from the McDonald’s. It was Ms. Negrón, and she had been shot many instances in many components of her physique, Captain Haddock reported.
He stated the police could not categorize the loss of life as a dislike crime until a motive was obviously established. He stated that strategies were currently being investigated, but that the police have not discovered any doable assailants.
“The video is being analyzed. We are waiting for certification to ascertain no matter if it is legitimate,” he said. “It does seem to be serious.”