The Lateisha Green Trial: Sunday Blog Post
This is TLDEF legal intern Laura Vogel blogging from Syracuse, New York, where TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman and I are working on the Lateisha Green trial. After driving from New York City to Syracuse on Friday, Michael and I picked up Andy Marra of GLAAD at her hotel, went to Teish’s home, and met several members of her family. As soon as we pulled up to the house, we saw a memorial for Teish in the front yard. Family, friends, and community members had placed candles, cards, and flowers on the ground soon after the murder in November. Then, on July 4, 2009, what would have been Teish’s twenty-third birthday, they added a huge number of balloons to the memorial. While we have always worked on this case with Teish in mind, this memorial was a concrete reminder of why we’re here: Teish was a twenty-two year old transgender woman who was killed merely because of who she was. We are here to honor her memory by doing all that we can to make sure that a hate crime like this never happens again.
Meeting the Family - Friday Evening
After passing the memorial, Roxanne Green, Teish’s mother, welcomed us into her home and thanked us for coming to Syracuse. As soon as we walked in, we noticed that there are pictures of Teish in every room of the house; she continues to be a constant presence in the family’s life. After Roxanne showed us some of these pictures, Michael showed Roxanne what TLDEF has posted about Teish on our website, including the segment describing our support of GENDA. We explained to Roxanne that GENDA would extend the current New York State hate crime legislation to include gender identity as a hate crime category. Roxanne seemed shocked that gender identity was not already included in the New York State hate crime law, and agreed that the law must be changed. “Who cares if they’re transgender, gay, or lesbian—they’re all the same, we’re all the same!” Roxanne said.
Table for Ten, Please
As we continued chatting with Roxanne, more of her family members arrived. We met Teish’s aunt, Rhonda Gary, Teish’s brother, Mark Anthony, and her sister, Shaconia Williams with her husband and three children. After talking at the house for a while, we all went out to dinner at Luigi’s, an Italian restaurant that’s been in the neighborhood for over 50 years. During dinner we talked about Syracuse, their neighborhood, Teish, and their entire family. Throughout our conversations, one thing was abundantly clear: Teish’s family is incredibly tight knit and supportive of each other. They all spoke about the hard time that Teish had in school and on the street because of her gender identity, but it was obvious that she had only love and support at home, one of her few safe spaces. Teish’s family is also particularly supportive of her brother, Mark, who is gay, and who was also shot when he was with Teish the night of the murder.
A Beautiful Memorial - Saturday Afternoon
On Saturday, Teish’s family was shown immense support from the local community at the LGBT Community Memorial for Lateisha Green. The memorial was held at the First English Lutheran Church in Syracuse, and was organized by Teish’s family along with a number of local community groups. Nearly two hundred family and community members filled the church to pay tribute to Teish. The emcee for the memorial, Akosua, set the stage for an event that honored Teish’s life and showed the family that they are not alone in this difficult time, as the entire community grieves with them.
Here are photos from the memorial service:
Here's a short video with some highlights from the service (thank you, GLAAD, for the video editing help!):
A representative of the church said that the congregation was “honored” to hold the memorial service in their sanctuary, and to have the opportunity to show that the church is a safe space for the LGBT community. The dances of La Joven Guardia del Teatro y La Danza Latina and the songs of the Syracuse Gay and Lesbian Chorus, two community members, and Teish’s cousin, all served to celebrate Teish’s life. Congressman Dan Maffei expressed sorrow that this hate crime took place within his constituency, and promised to continue his fight for federal legislation to protect the rights of LGBT people. Paula C. Johnson, a professor at Syracuse University College of Law who has published extensively in the area of gender and the law, stated that “attention must be paid” to this trial.
Human Rights Commissioner Julius D. Edwards assured the community that he is working to eradicate the kind of hate that Teish faced everyday, and that resulted in her death. Community members, friends, and family also spoke at the memorial, sharing stories about Teish, extending support to her family, and expressing the need for acceptance of LGBT people in the Syracuse area, as well as the nation. The memorial closed with bubbles and a release of doves. Roxanne told Teish’s four-year-old niece, Marquaysha, to tell the doves what to say to Teish when they fly up to her in heaven.
Show Your Support
Please send personal notes of encouragement to Lateisha’s family during this difficult time. You can email correspondence to: email@example.com. We can't guarantee the family will be able to reply to your emails, but we know that they'll read them and that they appreciate everyone's support. Please write!
Preparing for Trial - Sunday
Today, we went back to the family’s home to speak with Roxanne, Teish’s mother, Albert, Teish’s father, and Rhonda, Teish’s aunt. They all said that they were very pleased with the memorial, and that they were especially happy to have community support. We also spoke to them about the press conference scheduled for tomorrow, the first day of the trial. We described the procedure of the press conference, and reminded them that community members would be there, again, to support them. Roxanne was particularly focused on making sure that the press recognizes the truth about her family: Teish grew up with her mother and her father, who have been partners since 1978 and have raised three children, together.
The upcoming trial will be an immensely difficult time for Teish’s family, but whatever difficulties they face, I’m sure that they will do so together and with the support of the community. We will achieve justice for Teish, and we will educate as many people as possible so that no other family has to go through this.
We’ll be participating in a press conference Monday morning at 10 with Lateisha’s family and local community members. We expect that the entire first day of the trial tomorrow will be devoted to jury selection. We’ll be tweeting throughout the day from the courtroom and will provide another blog posting late tomorrow.
For continued updates throughout the trial, stay tuned to all of the following sources:
the “Justice for Teish” Facebook page; and
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