Tony McDade Deserves Justice. Here's What You Can Do to Help

Emily Dixon
·6 min read
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images

From Marie Claire

On Wednesday, May 27, two days after the murder of George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin, police shot and killed another Black man. Tony McDade, a 38-year-old Black trans man, was shot by an unnamed police officer in Tallahassee, Florida, making him at least the 12th American trans person to be killed in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

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***TW*** (mention of violence). An unarmed Black trans man, by the name of Tony Mcdade was gunned down by Tallahassee law enforcement on Wednesday morning. Police responded to a call about a stabbing that he was believed to be connected with and upon arriving on the scene, they hopped out of the car unannounced—and immediately opened fire on him. . . Tony’s story didn’t gain as much traction because of his gender identity, and the fact that his circumstances didn’t pass the “purity test.” We can’t examine Tony’s circumstances, without examining the system. Tony’s struggles at the intersections of racism, transphobia, carceral captivity, and socio-economic disparity are worth taking into consideration. . . In less than a week of being released from prison, Tony had been robbed, survived a car crash, had his heart broken by the woman he thought loved him, and was violently attacked by 5 men as bystanders cheered on while live streaming his beating on social media. All of this, before being gunned down by police. Tony deserved better than that, and he most certainly doesn’t deserve our judgement in death. . . The moment we start debating which black lives are worthy of saving, is the moment we carve out a foothold from which White supremacy can sustain it’s balance. It is only when we remove such stipulations that it will come toppling down—along with the systems it built. Say his name: #TonyMcDade 🕊 . . . . . . . #Blm #blacklivesmatter #blacktranslivesmatter #trans #transgender #transman #transmasculine #lgbtq #sayhisname #Florida #tallahassee

A post shared by Ashlee Marie Preston (@ashleemariepreston) on May 29, 2020 at 5:30pm PDT

Neighbors and other witnesses at the Leon Arms apartment complex have strongly disputed the police account of McDade's death. As Rolling Stone reports, the Tallahassee Police Department claimed McDade was the suspect in a stabbing earlier that day, while Police Chief Lawrence Revell said McDade had pointed a gun at officers, adding "the suspect was in possession of a handgun, and a bloody knife was found at the scene."

But Clifford Butler, a resident of the Leon Arms apartments, told local news station WFSU that the police officer—who has not been named, in accordance with a Florida law that classifies officers involved as shootings as victims, and therefore guarantees their anonymity—did not warn McDade before opening fire. Butler said he saw the officer, who witnesses have identified as white, "just jump out the car, swing the door open and just start shooting," adding, "I never heard ‘Get down, freeze, I’m an officer’—nothing. I just heard gun shots."

Another resident, speaking on Facebook Live after the shooting, as Rolling Stone reports, recounted, "They said ‘Stop moving, n****r,’ and then they shot him after he stopped moving."

Police Chief Lawrence Revell told WFSU that the unnamed officer had acted "in accordance with their training," and maintained that they were not obliged to warn McDade before they opened fire. "I would say in normal circumstances, and again not the specifics of this case, but if an officer is confronted with someone pointing a gun at them, but in those type of situations, there’s obviously not time to shout 'put the gun down, put the gun down' type of things—you’re defending your life at that point," Revell said. The Tallahassee Police Department is conducting an "internal investigation" into the fatal shooting of McDade, he added.

Tori Cooper, community engagement director of the Human Rights Campaign's Transgender Justice Initiative, told Rolling Stone, "The Human Rights Campaign and the entire transgender and non-binary community demand accountability and answers for Tony’s death—and countless violent deaths of trans people, Black people and, disproportionately, Black transgender people. While these deaths are visible due to recordings and social media, we know far too many go completely ignored."

"Black people, LGBTQ people, and especially all LGBTQ people of color are at greater risk for violence every day in this country," Cooper added. "This must end."

How can I help demand justice for Tony McDade?

Sign a petition calling for justice for Tony McDade here.

Donate to a fundraiser to support Tony's mom, Wanda McDade, and his family in their fight for justice, here.

Donate to the Florida Bail Fund for protestors here.

Donate to the Freedom Fund, a bail fund for LGBTQIA+ people, here.

Split a donation between bail funds across the country here.

Donate to Black Lives Matter here.

Sign the Black Lives Matter petition to #DefundThePolice here.

Donate to Campaign Zero, which campaigns for the enactment of policy to end police violence, here.

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