March 2, 2020 at 11:28 am PST | by Michael K. Lavers
D.C. HIV/AIDS conference honors transgender woman murdered in Puerto Rico
World AIDS Day, AIDS movement, 90/90/90, AIDS, red ribbon, gay news, AIRS, gay news, Washington Blade
The National Hispanic/Latinx Health Leadership Summit that is taking place in D.C. opened on March 2, 2020, with a moment of silence for Alexa, a transgender woman who was brutally killed in Puerto Rico last week. (Photo by Bigstock)

A D.C. conference on HIV/AIDS and STIs among Latinos opened on Monday with a moment of silence for a transgender woman who was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico last week.

The National Hispanic/Latinx Health Leadership Summit opened at the Capital Hilton a week after Alexa was killed in a park in Toa Baja, a municipality that is about 15 miles west of San Juan.

Police hours before Alexa was murdered on Feb. 24 responded to a report that she was “peeping” on people who were using a McDonald’s restroom. Media reports indicate the person who filed the complaint against Alexa declined to press charges against her once they learned she was homeless.

Alexa’s murder was captured on video a few hours later.

“She had dreams, hopes, hobbies and did not deserve to have her life taken from her,” said Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper last week in a statement.

The statement also describes Alexa’s murder as “a horrifying crime that must be investigated with the utmost thoroughness and care.”

Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican trap star, on Feb. 27 paid tribute to Alexa during a performance on “The Tonight Show.” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz ordered flags in her city to be lowered to half staff to honor Alexa.

“In the municipality of San Juan we have ordered the lowering of flags to half staff at all of our buildings to honor Alexa’s memory, to denounce transphobia and to demand justice in this terrible hate crime,” said Cruz in a press release. “We offer the municipality of San Juan’s resources both to Alexa’s family and the trans community in any effort that fosters a climate of peace, respect and dignity for all trans people and the LGBTTIQ community.”

A vigil for Alexa took place in front of La Fortaleza, the Puerto Rico governor’s official residence, on Feb. 29.

A vigil in honor of Alexa, a transgender woman who was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico, took place near La Fortaleza, the Puerto Rico governor’s official residence, in San Juan on Feb. 29, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Pedro Julio Serrano)

Puerto Rico officials urged to investigate murder as hate crime

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, and other advocates have urged Puerto Rican authorities to investigate Alexa’s murder as a hate crime.

The U.S. commonwealth’s hate crimes and nondiscrimination laws include both gender identity and sexual orientation. Anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination are nevertheless commonplace in Puerto Rico.

An 18-year-old man was detained in connection with Alexa’s murder, but authorities later released him. David Begnaud of CBS News on Sunday noted the FBI in San Juan has not opened a hate crime investigation into her death.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Follow Michael

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