Toshio Meronek

Remembering Kayla Moore

Filed By Toshio Meronek | April 15, 2013 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Andrea Pritchett, Berkeley, Coalition for a Safe Berkeley, Elysse Paige-Moore, Kayla Moore, police

In a city known for its progressiveness on transgender and disability issues, the death of Kayla Moore while she was in police custody in February shocked her family, friends, and strangers alike.

Kayla_Birthday2.jpgIn Berkeley, California, two local organizations, Berkeley Copwatch and Coalition for a Safe Berkeley, have for the past two months been calling for the Berkeley Police to release information on the trans woman's death.

From an earlier article I wrote about the situation:

"She made friends easily, she was very charismatic," said Elysse Paige-Moore, of her stepdaughter. "It was typical for her to call here five or six times a day, and talk with us. We cared for her dearly. We have no retirement money because we just did what we could for our child. And she loved us."

On the night of February 12, Berkeley police officers were dispatched to Moore's apartment for a mental health evaluation. Neighbors reported hearing screams, then abrupt silence. By just after midnight on the morning of the 13th, Moore was dead.

It's no secret that cops have earned a bad name when it comes to conduct with trans, disabled, and black people. Moore was all three.

As mentioned in the earlier article, here are a few recent revealing statistics:

  • An investigation by two Maine newspapers published in December 2012 found that at least half of the people killed by police in the US each year are mentally disabled.
  • The latest National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 29 percent of transgender people said they had been verbally harassed by cops
  • Over half of people "stopped-and-frisked" by police in New York (a controversial policy that allows cops to frisk anyone they find to be suspicious - a policy potentially being exported to the Bay Area) are black.

Says Copwatch:

We are calling on the Berkeley Police Department to release the police reports and the Coroner's Report, and to publish the investigation results on the incident that took place on February 12-13th, 2013. If misconduct has occurred, officers must be disciplined. If it was a failure of policy and administration, the public must be allowed to analyze the case and to assist in addressing this breakdown in city services. In any case, we demand that the Berkeley Police Department comply with Public Records Act requests and that they make information about that night's events available to the public as quickly as possible.

According to Copwatch's Andrea Pritchett, Moore's autopsy report is being held at the request of the cops, and the officers involved in the arrest that likely resulted in Moore's death are back on the job. The local District Attorney's office told Pritchett they won't investigate because there wasn't a shooting involved.

This Wednesday, April 17, marks what would have been Moore's 42nd birthday. The local groups and Moore's family are planning a celebration with a cause:

We are working with the family of Kayla Moore, killed by Berkeley police on February 13, 2013 to organize a joyous birthday celebration and memorial in front of the Gaia building where she was killed. We are also continuing to put pressure on the Berkeley Police. After a birthday celebration mc'd by members of Kayla's family and involving family, friends, and local concerned groups across the Bay Area, we will march to the Berkeley Police Station to deliver a[n] oversized Public Records Act Request to the Berkeley Police Department. We are demanding that they release all information and reports related to Kayla's death to our ongoing People's Investigation.

More info on the event is available at Berkeley Copwatch's blog.

(Image via Berkeley Copwatch.)

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