BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization) responds to the homicide of Brandi Bledsoe, a 32-year-old transgender woman of color in Cleveland, Ohio.
Reports indicate that Brandi was found dead on the eastside of Cleveland. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner has initially ruled her death a suspected homicide. BRAVO is working with Cleveland area organizations and individuals throughout Ohio to offer our assistance in supporting Brandi’s family, friends, and community of during this difficult time.
According to media sources the Cleveland Police have not released information about the motivation; however, stated that they are not ruling out her gender identity as a potential motive at this time. Although no motive is known the possibility of hate motivation regarding her gender identity must always be considered, given the ongoing prevalence of violence faced by transgender/gender non-conforming people here in Ohio and nationwide.
The homicide of Brandi marks the third homicide of transgender women in Ohio in just over nine weeks, and 13 murders of transgender/gender non-conforming people in just under four years. Nationally this is the 22nd murder of a transgender/gender non-conforming person in 2016. “This is a critical time, we all have to acknowledge and continue to take action to combat this epidemic of hate and bias violence here in Ohio. We call on all systems, government, and community to commit more resources to combat this violence in Ohio and the nation.” says Aaron Eckhardt, Training and Technical Assistance Director of BRAVO. BRAVO is saddened to learn of this most recent homicide. “Our hearts, minds and condolences are with Brandi’s family, friends, and community in this time of tragedy. As all of us are still mourning the deaths of Skye Mockabee and Rae’Lynn Thomas just weeks ago. All of us at BRAVO are saddened and outraged as our communities continue to be repeatedly targeted and we remain steadfast in providing services to the LGBTQI communities of Ohio. We must continue to come together as a broad community of support to say hate has no home in Ohio, until hate has no home anywhere,” Eckhardt added.
BRAVO is a member of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). In the most recent report , Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected Communities in the United States in 2015, BRAVO documented 71 incidents of anti-LGBTQI hate violence incidents in Ohio representing a 10% increase from 2014. Nationally, NCAVP received reports on 24 hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ and HIV-affected people in 2015, which was a 20% increase in the number of reports compared to 2014. Continuing an alarming multi-year trend, people of color and transgender and gender nonconforming people made up the majority of victims of LGBTQ and HIV-affected related hate violence.
“Sadly, we know that hate violence in its many forms is intended to instill a message of hate and fear throughout our entire community. Hate crimes largely go under-reported, or not reported at all, and people are left with restoring their sense of safety and security on their own. BRAVO can help,” said Gloria McCauley, Executive Director of BRAVO.
BRAVO encourages anyone who has experienced anti-LGBTQ violence in Ohio to contact us toll free, 866-86-BRAVO or visit our website http://www.bravo-ohio.org . To learn more about our statewide advocacy and services, receive technical assistance, or support, contact BRAVO. For help locating an anti-violence program in your area, please visit www.ncavp.org.
BRAVO stands in solidarity with all Ohioans and has been working closely with organizations and individuals throughout the state including as we come together responding to this heinous act of violence.
BRAVO is a member of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).
BRAVO works to eliminate violence perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identification, domestic violence, and sexual assault through prevention, education, advocacy, violence documentation, and survivor services, both within and on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.