On Sunday, the local youth group BreakOUT! held a day of action in Armstrong Park. It was part of an international day to honor all transgender people who died by violence in the past year.
Nia Faulk stands before a crowd in Congo Square and holds up a megaphone. “Black trans lives matter!” Faulk chants. “Brown trans lives matter! All trans lives matter!”
Faulk, a member of BreakOUT!, says the annual Day of Remembrance is usually a somber occasion. But this group wants to set a different tone.
“It’s not just about getting together and crying over the violence,” Faulk says. “It’s also about getting together and building a beautiful future.”
Faulk leads chants about loving transgender people and puts out a call: give us our roses now. Faulk says we can’t just lay down roses for people after they’ve been killed.
“We’re here to honor everyone we have unfortunately lost due to unprecedented levels of violence,” Faulk says, “but at the same time there are glorious beings walking the earth who are trans and gender non-conforming and we need to give them their roses too.”
Those roses include housing, jobs and education.
After the chanting and singing, BreakOUT! members march from Congo Square to Bourbon Street. They temporarily block the road and recite the names of 26 transgender and gender non-conforming people killed in the US this year.
Many BreakOUT! members worry a Trump presidency will lead to more violence and discrimination. Member Meloney Washington says that's why events like this are important.
“No matter who is in office, today we’re here to represent that we’re here to stay and ask and demand for what we want and need,” Washington says.
Faulk encourages people to bring those demands to state legislators.