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Book Displays: Equal Justice Initiative 2021: Jun

Virtual displays based on the 2021 A History of Racial Injustice calendar.

June's Topic - Racial Violence Against LGBTQ People

People holding signs in a July 2020 march in Richmond Virginia protesting police violence against Black women

Calendar photo caption: In July 2020, protestors marched in Richmond, Virginia, to protest racial violence and police brutality targeting Black women. (Eze Amos/Getty Images)

Calendar Text

The presumption of guilt and myth of racial difference that burden Black people are compounded for Black LGBTQ people, who are criminalized and stigmatized not only for their race but for their sexuality and gender identities. LGBTQ communities of color have long faced arrest and imprisonment under laws criminalizing homosexuality and gender nonconformity. As recently as 2010, a Black man was convicted of a crime in Selma, Alabama, for having consensual sex with another man.

A movement to build solidarity and ensure safety for Black and Latino LGBTQ people was fueled by police violence. Police often raided LGBTQ establishments during the 1960s. Violent police attacks on Los Angeles's Cooper Do-nuts Café in 1959 and San Francisco's Compton's Cafeteria in 1966 prompted protests. A police raid on New York's Stonewall Inn in 1969 launched the Stonewall Uprising, an early catalyst in the LGBTQ rights movement. Black and brown transgender women like Marsh P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who had long been treated brutally by police, played key roles in the Uprising.

Laws criminalizing LGBTQ identities have been struck down, but a culture of impunity towards violence against Black and brown LGBTQ people persists. In 2008, Duanna Johnson, a 43-year-old Black transgender woman, was assaulted at the Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tennessee. Surveillance video shows two white officers holding her down, beating her, and spraying her in the face with pepper spray. After she was released, Ms. Johnson was fatally shot in the head. Three men were reportedly seen in the area before the police arrived, but her killer was never found.