A transgender Latinx woman died when struck by a car after being harassed last week in Los Angeles, and friends, family, and activists say her death should be investigated as a murder and a hate crime.
Rayanna Pardo, 26, was killed on the city’s east side Wednesday night, L.A. TV station KCBS reports. Security video shows her being followed by a group of people down Eastern Avenue, and her family wants police to determine if she ran into the street to get away from her harassers or even may have been pushed. She often faced such mistreatment, family members said. The motorist has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The TransLatin@ Coalition, along with Pardo’s friends and relatives, held a candlelight vigil Saturday to honor her life and memory. “Rayanna was such a beautiful young person who just wanted to live her life and be herself,” Bamby Salcedo, president of the TransLatin@ Coalition, said at the event.
“I can’t even sleep,” said Monica Pardo, Rayanna’s mother. “Every time I close my eyes, I just picture [her] getting hit by a car, and so I stay awake.”
Seeing the turnout of people to memorialize Rayanna did provide some comfort, said Adriana Rangel, her sister. “It brings peace of mind,” Rangel said. “Like, you know what? There’s people out there who do care, and that’s what my sister needed help with.”
“Everybody should just love everybody,” said Armando Rangel Jr., Rayanna’s brother. “At the end of the day that’s all we have, is one another.”
If Rayanna Pardo’s death is ruled a homicide, she would be the 12th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person known to have died by violence in the U.S. this year. Last year saw a record number of such deaths, 44. There are likely many more that are not counted because the victims are misgendered or their deaths not reported at all.