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Call For Action In Wake Of Transgender Woman’s Beating Death

Islan Nettles Died Thursday, 5 Days After Being Viciously Attacked In Harlem
Islan Nettles (image via CBS 2)

Islan Nettles (image via CBS 2)


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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Family members, friends and community leaders gathered in Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem Tuesday night for a vigil in memory of a young transgender woman who died of her injuries suffered in a violent attack.

As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, it may have been a hate crime that led to the death of Islan Nettles, 21, but one thing became clear during the vigil – she was loved.

“I loved my baby – like I said, a handsome man and a beautiful woman,” said the victim’s mother, Delores Nettles.

Delores Nettles said she always accepted her child, but now she is going to fight so other transgender people are accepted.

“I’m going to make it right for everybody who walks the streets,” she said, “because if it wasn’t my baby, it could be somebody else’s.”

Family members and friends hold a vigil for Islan Nettles, a young transgender woman who lost her life to injuries from a beating in Harlem. (Credit: Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS)

Family members and friends hold a vigil for Islan Nettles, a young transgender woman who lost her life to injuries from a beating in Harlem. (Credit: Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS)

Delores Nettles said she will participate in walks marches, and will head to court in the interest of justice.

Jeffrey Padilla met Islan Nettles through the AIDS Awareness organization Iris House. He said Islan would have fought the same fight her mother is now waging.

“She would always come to Iris House and say, ‘Jeffrey, what can I do as a young transgender woman for my community?’”

Islan Nettles died this past Thursday night, five days after she was attacked in Harlem, police said.

Nettles’ mother, sister and grandmother kept a bedside vigil at the hospital before agreeing to end life support, CBS 2′s Tony Aiello reported.

Nettles and a friend, another transgender woman, were out a week ago Saturday evening in Harlem when they ran into a group of men and one pounced, punching Nettles in the face, police said.

A witness who spoke to authorities initially did not mention any anti-gay remarks.

The suspect, 20-year-old Paris Wilson, allegedly kept punching after Nettles fell to the ground, Aiello reported.

After the attack, Nettles was hospitalized, slipped into a coma and later died.

Wilson was arrested on an assault charge, but since Nettles has died, more serious charges have been pending.

Detectives have been investigating whether the suspect had propositioned Nettles. It seems the victim and the suspect knew each other and were friends on Facebook, Aiello reported last week.

Davis said her her grandchild dreamed of working in the fashion industry.

“Very quiet, didn’t like to fight or nothing,” Davis said.

It was the latest in a spate of bias attacks this year in New York. In all, 68 have been reported, from yelled slurs to the May killing of a 32-year-old gay man in Greenwich Village. Earlier this month, a gay couple was attacked in Chelsea.

Police stepped up patrols this summer in response.

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