After the May 7, 2010, murder of Milwaukee transgender woman Chanel Larkin, FORGE initiated a months-long set of activities designed to support, empower, and educate the community. Six community meetings were held to provide community members with a safe place to express emotions and to plan actions such as a presentation by the district attorney’s office on the prosecution process; a candlelight vigil; a march and rally at the Courthouse; and ensuring there were court watchers at all court appearances of the accused. We also:
- assisted people in filing victim impact statements with the court;
- published editorials and articles in the Journal Sentinel Op Ed – Chanel Larkin, Wisconsin Gazette, Quest, and other publications;
- arranged for coverage by television news stations 6 and 58;
- distributed 4 news releases and 80 media kits;
- did trainings for and met with the Milwaukee Homicide Review Team and the Domestic Violence Review Team;
- and got appointed and met with a Milwaukee Police Department LGBT Police Liaison.
Although no further Community Cares meetings or events are planned, FORGE feels this community healing and empowerment work is very important, and we expect we may lead similar efforts when they become necessary.
During the course of the Community Cares meetings, several other African-American transgender women (all friends of Chanel) approached FORGE and asked for our help in finding them steady, safer employment so they could quit working the streets. FORGE has joined with the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Diverse & Resilient, and Q-BLOK and Manpower, Inc. to develop a pilot project designed to work with transgender people with multiple complex barriers to employment. It is our hope that we can not only help these and other Milwaukee transgender people find employment, but that we can develop a program that can be replicated in other cities across the country. For more information see the jobs program page under the Wisconsin menu.
Read some of the moving speeches from the vigil and rally.