Man Charged in Beating Death of Islan Nettles in New York City

By Jamilah King Mar 04, 2015

It’s been more than a year since Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old fashion designer and transwoman of color was brutally beaten to death in Harlem. This week New York City police officers announced that James Dixon, 24, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter.

The arrest caps a year and a half of often frustrating back-and-forth. Initially, another man was charged with the crime, but those charges were later dropped.

Nettles’ death sparked an outcry against violence targeting transgender women of color. From the New York Times:

Ms. Nettles’s killing incensed the transgender community in New York and prompted vigils, protests and the formation of an advocacy group, the Trans Women of Color Collective. For many, Ms. Nettles’s death became emblematic of violence against transgender people, who are often the targets of beatings, and what many of them see as the indifference the authorities show across the country to the killings of men transitioning to women.

Lourdes Hunter, the director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, said the long delay in bringing charges against Mr. Dixon reflected the low priority such cases have among the police and prosecutors. Ms. Hunter also questioned why the attack was not treated as a hate crime, because no motive other than Ms. Nettles’s sexual orientation had been suggested. She also wondered why Mr. Dixon was not charged with murder.

Read more