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Candlelight vigil at UNF to remember slain transgender women

3 women killed, 4th attacked but survived this year in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a celebration of life and a continued call for change in the Jacksonville community Tuesday night as the University of North Florida hosted an international event remembering the lives of transgender women lost to violence and hate.

During 2018 in Jacksonville, three transgender women have been murdered. A fourth was assaulted and survived the attack.

Following a brief time of networking, dozens of people attended the event at the Osprey Plaza. Kaitlin Legg was one of the organizers.

"It adds an extra level of somberness to the event here in Jacksonville, and the weight, we really feel it," Legg said. "There are people here tonight whose loved ones have been murdered, and so, I think that really speaks to the need for us to take action."

Speakers of the event remembered those who lost their lives by name and with photos. Most who attended, if not all, want to see changes in the way transgender people are treated.

"A lot of transgender folks in our community are isolated. They feel like they've got a target on their back," Legg said. "We're creating a safe space to bring folks together around that."

In February, Celine Walker was shot and killed at a local hotel. In June, Antash’a English was found shot between two abandoned homes. Later that month 24-year-old Cathalina Christina James was fatally shot.

"This year alone there (have) been 22 murders of transgender people," said Paige Parks, an advocate who spoke at the event.

Following the attacks, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams appointed a board of officers to specifically work as liaisons between police and the LGBTQ community and address safety concerns.

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