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LGBTQ leaders call for help as violence against community rises

Posted at 10:19 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 23:13:02-04

BALTIMORE — There’s a group of people in Baltimore who feel that their voices aren’t being heard while their pain continues to grow.

The documented homicide rate for trans women in Baltimore and across the country has been steadily rising.

For Tamar Jones, it hit home Tuesday morning when she got a call that one of her mentees was found dead in an apartment.

“Someone I call my child that I’ve known for five years is in their apartment dead,” Jones said. “That’s hurtful that’s sad. Not to know if there family is going to step up to help or does Baltimore Safe Haven need to step in.”

Out of respect to the family and as police investigate we aren’t saying the name of the loved one that Jones lost.

Jones works alongside Iya Dammons at Baltimore Safe Haven.

They’ve shared several images of responses to attacks on trans women in the past few weeks.

“There’s nothing I can tell family who comes to me and says hey can you help us bury our child because our child was only 19,” Dammons said. “That hurts me because have you ever had someone tell you, I’m going to kill myself because they can’t deal with it anymore? Text you that night and you wake up that morning and they are dead. That’s the feeling.”

Even with all the hate and violence Dammons and Safe Haven celebrate their wins.

Like these two young people they helped move into their own apartments.

The 25,000 pounds of food they’ve given out during the pandemic, the countless lives they’ve saved with their transitional housing and mental health programs.

But they say there is only so much more work they can do out of this renovated row home— and the help isn’t there from the city.

“The doors are closed for people that look like me,” said Dammons. “This is where I call home. Infrastructures are broke to us. The phone is off for us. There is no connection in Baltimore City right now that’s hearing us. I voted for Brandon, I believe in Brandon. I know he just got in there, but Brandon we need you today more than ever.”

Baltimore Safe Haven is also focused on moving forward and creating a place where they can feel happiness.

To that there’s going to be a great community day here right at the Y Not Lot from noon to 5pm. Free food a concert and of course resources for the LGBTQ community.

Jeremy LaMaster is the Executive Director of Free State Justice, a legal services and policy advocacy organization for the LGBTQ community.

“In the state of Maryland alone 77% of LGBTQ Foster youth leave their placement because of bias because of their gender or sexual identity," LaMaster said. “We don’t really have a well equipped system trained and mobilized to care for this high rate of homelessness of LGBTQ youth.”

Recently they’ve been working on policy change for members of the LGBTQ community who are incarcerated.

“We were just on this porch not a month or two ago over the death of a black trans woman housed in a male cell in Central booking,” LaMaster said. “We still haven’t gotten answers on that.”

Answers and solutions, they’ve been marching pleading and begging for them and feel like those calls are falling on deaf ears.

“We’re historically behind here in Baltimore city. We can’t sleep, we can’t breath,” Dammons said.

To learn more and to support Baltimore Safe Havens efforts click here.