A candlelit vigil was held Saturday (20 March) to mourn the death of Rayanna Pardo, a trans woman of colour killed after a car collided into her as she fled from harassers in Los Angeles, California.
Pardo, described as a “beautiful person” by those who knew her, died 17 March as she walked along E 5th Street and S Eastern Avenue – mere minutes from her home – before being struck by a drunk driver.
The driver, according to the force, is facing charges for driving under the influence.
Local surveillance footage showed the 26-year-old pacing down Eastern Avenue as people followed her – Pardo’s family claim they were harassing and threatening her, according to KCAL9.
Now, her family are pushing for the Los Angeles Police Department to investigate the incident further, floating that she might have been pushed by those following her.
Pardo, as a trans woman they said, had long endured harassment for simply living her truth.
Rayanna Pardo’s loved ones grieve their loss: ‘I can’t sleep’
At the vigil, organised by the grassroots activist group Trans Latina Coalition, trans Pride flags decorated the chain fence on the street where she was slain.
Balloons swayed in the breeze as dozens of mourners chanted Rayanna Pardo’s name in front of framed photographs of her surrounded by candles.
“Rayanna was such a beautiful young person who just wanted to live her life and be herself,” Trans Latina Coalition president Bamby Salcedo told the broadcaster.
The Pardo household has gathered to the site of Rayanna’s death every day since discovering what happened to her.
“I can’t even sleep,” Monica Pardo, Rayanna’s mother, said.
“Every time I close my eyes, I just picture [her] getting hit by a car, and so I stay awake.”
Pardo is at least the 12th trans or gender nonconforming person killed this year, according to LGBT+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, which is monitoring the swelling fatality rates.
In less than three months this year alone, the community has mourned: Tyianna Alexandra, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey “JJ” Bright and Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks and Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders.
The rocketing rates of violence against trans people have compounded fears among the HRC that this year ahead might already be on track to be the deadliest year yet since its records began.
“If this alarming rate of fatal violence persists,” a HRC spokesperson said, “we will either match or surpass last year’s total number of 44 deaths, which marked 2020 as the deadliest year on record for our community.”