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Oak Lawn March Raises Awareness Of Transgender Attacks In Dallas

Jacob Reyes / KERA News
Santiago Leos lll demonstrated on Sunday. "Whatever happens to one of us happens to all of us," he said.

Protesters in Dallas marched recently to raise awareness and speak out about recent attacks against transgender women in the city.

Last month, the body of 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker was discovered in Far East Dallas. She had been shot and killed. Earlier this month, the body of 26-year-old Chynal Lindsey was pulled from White Rock Lake.

Dallas police announced Wednesday that 33-year-old Kendrell Lavar Lyles has been arrested and charged with murder in Booker's slaying. He's also being investigated in connection with Lindsey's death.

At the rally on Sunday, demonstrators began their march at the Resource Center, an LGBTQ organization, and then walked down Cedar Springs Road through the Oak Lawn neighborhood.

Signs commemorating Booker and Lindsey were displayed as protesters chanted "Black trans lives matter!"

The march stopped at JR's Bar and Grill, while bystanders looked on and cheered in solidarity with the protesters. The bar generated headlines earlier this month when a viral video showed a transgender patron being ejected from the establishment. The bar fired the employee involved in the incident and issued an apology saying it respects and values people from all communities and "will continue to advocate for diversity and inclusivity."

Santiago Leos lll was at the rally, carrying a sign that read, "Trans is beautiful."

Leos and his husband have marched for LGBTQ rights before, including for marriage equality. Leos said he felt compelled to stand in solidarity with the transgender community.

"Whatever happens to one of us happens to all of us," Leos said.

Heather Howard and Shannon Walker also attended the rally. Howard said that the LGBTQ community must remember that transgender people played a vital role in New York City’s Stonewall Inn riots, an uprising 50 years ago that led to the development of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

As the rally made its way down Oak Lawn Avenue, demonstrators stopped in front of a new mural dedicated to trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who participated in the Stonewall riots.

Members of the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition passed out petitions, asking for hate crime laws to be adjusted in Texas in order to protect transgender people.

The LGBTQ community in Dallas must be inclusive to everyone, including transgender people, Walker said.

"We're here, we're part of this community,'' Walker said. "We're not going anywhere."