OAKLAND, Calif. — A transgender woman was shot to death in downtown Oakland, Calif., over the weekend, and friends believe her killing was a hate crime.
According to a witness, Brandy Martell, 37, was sitting behind the wheel of her car around 5:15 a.m. Sunday when one or two men walked up and began a conversation, reported KGO-TV.
The witness told KGO-TV the conversation was cordial, but then a few minutes later, one of the men became angry and fired into the car where Martell was sitting.
Watch a report from KGO-TV:
Until late last year, Martell worked as an outreach worker at a health center in Fremont, Calif., which serves the transgender and transsexual community.
Community organizations have said they believe the shooting was motivated by hate. According to Oakland Occupy Patriarchy, a branch of Occupy Oakland, Brandy was shot by a man who had “become enraged and shot her when he realized she was trans,” reported the SF Weekly.
“When you don’t provide a space in society for people who you think are the other or different, especially transgender women, especially transgender women of color, when you don’t provide spaces for them to be in a safe environment or a safe space, whether it’s socializing or services, this is what happens,” said Tiffany Woods, a friend of Martell’s.
Police are still investigating the murder and said it could be considered a hate crime if they find out that the assailant was motivated by Martell’s actual or perceived gender identity.