Jojo Striker, 23, was found dead in a garage in Toledo, OH, last Wednesday. Striker was a black transgender woman and the third trans person reported murdered in the first six weeks of 2017. All three of the trans women murdered this year were of color.
"The police told us to leave it alone but that will never happen because I will always search for my son’s killer,” Shanda Striker, Jojo's mother, told WTOL-11. “This is a hate crime and it needs to stop."
The Toledo Police Department did not immediately respond to questions about whether Striker's death is being investigated as a hate crime.
Police told the local TV station that they do not have any leads in the investigation, but indicated that they thought her "criminal past" may have lead to her death. (Police would not elaborate on what that alleged past criminal activity entails.) Advocates say that minimizes her murder and amounts to victim blaming.
Last year, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recorded 23 murders of trans and gender non-conforming people. The group's most recent LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Hate Violence report found 24 hate violence homicides of LGBTQ people in 2015—a 20% increase from the year before. Of the victims in 2015, 54% were transgender women of color.
Emily Waters, Senior Manager of National Research and Policy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said the Donald Trump administration has trans communities concerned that their safety is even more under threat.
“We are already seeing signs that the new administration will be stepping back protections for transgender people. In a moment when we are seeing the highest number of reports of homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people, we need policies that protect the rights and safety of transgender people—not roll backs,” Waters said in a statement to reporters.
Equality Toledo, a local LGBTQ rights organization, has set up a GoFundMe page to help Striker's family with funeral costs.
"Jojo Striker's murder in Toledo, Ohio remains unsolved and is yet another disturbing reminder that our transgender friends and family are under attack … Thank you in advance and please continue to have conversations about these heinous attacks against our community," the post reads.