Harlem vigil for transgender woman fatally beaten

August 27, 2013 8:08:31 PM PDT
A vigil is being held Tuesday for a transgender woman who was brutally and fatally attacked on a Harlem street.

In a show of pride and support the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community came out to honor a young man who had the courage to be who he wanted and died because of it.

"I want this to stop. I want people to be able to be comfortable in their skin, and not have to worry about what can happen to them," said Dejia Ferguson, the victim's friend.

"To know that one of my friends was killed by someone I went to school with takes me to another place," said Fatimah Barry, the victim's friend.

Islan Nettles' friends will carry on without her. Her life was cut short at just 21 last week in a brutal beating police are calling a hate crime and what her family calls a shame.

"For someone to beat your child down. That's a tragedy," said Delores Nettles, the victim's mother.

The victim's mother vowed to fight until bias crime ends.

The mother of seven was applauded by the diverse crowd for loving her child through her differences.

An acceptance, Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, who is openly gay, urges in others.

"I don't know what is wrong with people, why who I am or who transgender people are is offensive. Keep your feelings to yourself. It is not OK to act out in a violent way," Quinn said.

Supporters of the young victim hope to keep her memory alive by making sure gay or transgender young people always feel loved. Islan's grieving mother hopes anyone who victimizes others like her child are held responsible.

"My baby can't come back, my baby can't go to school or to work like she wanted to, and it's not fair," Delores Nettles said.

The person accused of killing Islan was released on bail.

The 20-year-old college student is only being charged with a misdemeanor, but after Nettles was taken off life support, a grand jury is reviewing the case. Those charges could be upgraded.