Murdered for Being Transgender: No Arrests Made in Case of La. Activist Found Slain Along Roadside
The body of Shakie Peters was discovered July 1 fatally shot along a roadside ditch in rural Amite City, Louisiana.
She was 32. Police still don’t know if the victim was “shot there, or dumped there,” Chief Joe Chaney of the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office tells PEOPLE. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified.
Authorities initially identified the transgender woman as a man – highlighting one of the many challenges faced by the LGBTQ community as it tracks an unprecedented wave of violence affecting transgender individuals.
Last year at least 26 transgender people were killed, based on data from the National Center for Transgender Equality. So far in 2020 there have been at least 28 homicides of transgender people – and because police and family members don’t always accurately report the victim’s gender, a full accounting may be impossible.
For more on the surge of violence impacting the transgender community, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands now.
“The saddest part of this is that we have a protocol for when our people die,” says Nathalie Nia Faulk, 29, a friend of Peters' who is also transgender, tells PEOPLE. “Most people can mourn the dead once they’ve lost someone, but we actually have to fight for our humanity.”
Peters had “long lived” her life as a woman, says Faulk. She was “consistently laughing, consistently joking, the first person to get up and dance.” A performance artist, Peters also was active in community development and organizing in and around the New Orleans area.
“Shakie was the person who would come to you and be like, ‘How are you? Are you okay?,’” says Faulk. “She would be a person who would be like, ‘Oh, what do you need me to do?’”
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“Shakie would provide moments of joy and laughter that sustained us,” she says. “Whenever you’re facing the systemic issues we face as Black people, that triple identity of being a Black, trans woman, it’s easy to just give up or not want to get out of bed, but you never saw Shakie do that.”
“She definitely was an inspiration in how she navigated life,” says Faulk.
Police ask that anyone with information contact 800-554-5245.