Black trans people continue to be under attack across the United States. On April 18, Rasheeda Williams, better known as Koko Da Doll, was one of the latest Black trans women to become a statistic. Her death was especially shocking considering she was one of four women featured in the 2023 documentary Kokomo City, which premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January.
Yesterday (April 26), authorities moved one step closer to achieving justice for Koko. Seventeen-year-old Jermarcus Jernigan turned himself in to Atlanta police after warrants were issued for his arrest in connection to Koko’s shooting death. He’s facing multiple charges including murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Homicide detectives “were able to establish probable cause and secure arrest warrants” in the case against Jernigan, according to an Atlanta PD statement. Her death is one of three violent crimes against trans women that local law enforcement is currently investigating, as noted below.
The Atlanta Police Department(APD) is actively investigating three violent crimes involving transgender women this year. While these individual incidents are unrelated, we are very aware of the epidemic-level violence black and brown transgender women face in America. pic.twitter.com/GOH6gOZCa7
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) April 20, 2023
Kokomo City follows the lives of four Black trans sex workers and portrays them in an everyday light. In addition to her appearance in the documentary, Koko was also an aspiring musician whose music was set to be featured on “The Chi.”
D. Smith, the film’s award-winning director and a Black trans woman herself, mourned Koko’s death in a heartbreaking Instagram post seen below. “I created Kokomo City because I wanted to show the fun, humanized, natural side of Black trans women. I wanted to create images that didn’t show the trauma or the statistics of murder of transgender lives. I wanted to create something fresh and inspiring. I did that. We did that! But here we are again,” she lamented.
“It’s extremely difficult to process Koko’s passing, but as a team we are more encouraged now than ever to inspire the world with her story. To show how beautiful and full of life she was,” Smith continued. “She will inspire generations to come and will never be forgotten.”
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