Black Trans Woman Murdered in South Carolina

Black Trans Woman Murdered in South Carolina

The deadly targeting of black transgender women across the United States continued on July 20 in North Charleston, South Carolina, where Denali Berries Stuckey was found dead with gunshot wounds shortly after 4 a.m.

Police confirmed that Stuckey, a 29-year-old black trans woman, was found on the side of the road at 2821 Carner Avenue in North Charleston. Police have not identified a suspect at this time.

With Stuckey’s death, 12 trans women — all black women — have suffered violent deaths this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

When asked if the case is being investigated as a hate crime, a spokesperson for North Charleston’s police department only said, “It is being investigated as a homicide.”

“We don’t have any information to lead us to a motive at this point,” the spokesperson said.

The Charleston County coroner’s office did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment. In ABC 4’s report, the deputy coroner deadnamed Stuckey.

The state of South Carolina does not have a hate crimes law, but the city of Charleston — just minutes south of North Charleston — passed a hate crimes ordinance in November of last year after the area developed a reputation for failing to report hate crimes. Stuckey’s body was found just five miles from the church where white supremacist Dylann Roof carried out a mass shooting in 2015 and was later convicted of 33 federal hate crime and murder charges.

But hate crimes protocol is not clear in North Charleston, where the city’s City Council operates separately from the one in Charleston.

South Carolina Equality, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, and another local queer rights group known as the Alliance for Full Acceptance, did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Stuckey’s death. Those organizations, along with Charleston Pride, We Are Family, Charleston Area Transgender Support, and Charleston Black Pride are holding a vigil honoring Stuckey’s life on July 22 at 8 p.m. at 1801 Reynolds Ave in North Charleston.

“We want to honor and memorialize Denali as she identified herself and lived her life,” the Alliance for Full Acceptance wrote on the vigil’s event page on Facebook. “Please join us. #sayhername.”

A GoFundMe page has been established to aid Stuckey’s family in raising money for her funeral and burial expenses.

In addition to the dozen known women who have suffered violent deaths, other trans women have died while incarcerated, some in the custody of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities. Locally, Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco died in the custody of the New York City Department of Correction in early June, and there have been very few details surrounding the circumstances of her death.