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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Church of San Jose honors dead transgender people a year after severely stabbed

SAN JOSE – At the sanctuary where Kimberly Susan Phial was killed a year ago, activists and community members gathered on Saturday to honor her life and the lives of dozens of other transgender people who have been victims of violence over the past 12 months.

Phial, a 55-year-old trans woman who slept at a homeless shelter run by the Grace Baptist Church, was killed on November 22, 2020, after being stabbed in the church that killed another person. three people and shocked the community. On Saturday, to commemorate the annual Transgender Memorial Day, Fial’s photograph was displayed among many other faces of similarly brutal lives.

With at least 47 deaths recorded, 2021 has already become the deadliest year for transgender people in the United States since the Campaign for Human Rights began tracking in 2013. There were at least 44 deaths in 2020, including Fiala.

Christina Fernandez (left) holds hands with partner Billy Lynn Ross (center) as they speak to Gabrielle Antolovich at the Silicon Valley Pride Memorial Day event at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose on Saturday, November 20. (Josie Lepe for the Bay Area News Group)

“It’s always difficult,” said trans-lawyer Billy Lynn Ross, pointing to a sea of ​​faces on the table next to her, littered with candles and flowers. “I can see it and it’s so much of the light is lost. Therefore, I try to make my heart shine brighter. “

Fernando Jesús Lopez, a resident and volunteer at the church shelter, was charged with the assault that killed Fial and 45-year-old John Paulson and wounded three others.

On Saturday, the gym, which was the scene of terror a year ago, was full of music and lively chatter as more than a dozen young volunteers prepared meals for people living in neighboring homeless camps. Unwilling to let tragedy end his ministry mission, Grace Baptist reopened her hideout almost immediately after police cleared the crime scene. The church has strengthened its security and recently received a grant from FEMA and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Management to supply new cameras and fences and reimburse security costs, said the Reverend George Oliver, who took over as senior pastor. in March.

Now 50 to 60 people sleep on mattresses on the floor of the church gym every night. And the church is installing new showers for the community’s homeless people.

“We know that if it hadn’t been for Grace, there wouldn’t have been another stop on the road to devastation,” Oliver said.

But the ghosts of that tragic night have not yet disappeared. A large portrait of Fial is displayed in the corridor between the church sanctuary and the gymnasium. There is also a photograph of her in the vending machine in memory of Fiala’s sweet tooth.

The activists decided to celebrate the annual Memorial Day at Grace Baptist Church, both as a way to celebrate what happened there a year ago and to open the event to more people outside of the trans community, said Sera Fernando, activist and director of affairs variety of Silicon. Valley of pride.

The church also planned to host a “Concert of Hope and Healing” featuring Ron Beck at 7:30 pm on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, Fernando and other activists slowly and solemnly read out the names of dozens of transgender people killed in 2021 and in the final months of 2020.

Fial was not the only local name – 24-year-old Natalia Smut, a trans woman from San Jose, was killed in April in Milpitas.

World Nation News Desk
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