In response to the recent death of a transgender Berkeley resident who was in police custody, Anonymous Queers in Action has planned a protest for Tuesday evening to raise awareness of the incident and to call for increased transparency regarding the investigation.
The protest aims to be an “uncompromisingly militant march against the racist and transphobic Berkeley Police who murdered Kayla Moore,” according to a Facebook post published last Saturday.
“In the case of Kayla Moore, whether by neglect or intent the result is the same,” Anonymous Queers in Action wrote in the post. “Kayla Moore is dead. The Berkeley Police killed Kayla Moore.”
The group stated that it “know(s) police regularly murder people of color, gender-variant people, and people with ‘mental illness.’”
According to a press release from Berkeley Police Department, the department received a disturbance call on the evening of Feb. 12. Responding officers were directed to the residence of 41-year-old Xavier Christopher Moore, a transgender person with a history of mental health issues and who identified as Kayla Moore.
Moore became “increasingly agitated” and began to “violently resist” during contact, according to the release. While struggling to restrain Moore to a gurney, officers discovered she had stopped breathing. She was later pronounced deceased at a local hospital.
In an interview with the Oakland Tribune, Elysse Paige-Miller, Moore’s stepmother, said that Moore was known to the police. In prior situations, BPD would bring its mental health crisis team, which could calm Moore down, she said.
It is unclear whether there was such a team at the scene or if the extent of Moore’s distress was beyond what was described in press releases.
“We are committed to conducting a thorough investigation into this matter,” said Officer Jennifer Coats, spokesperson for BPD, in an email. “We understand the desire to have as much information about this incident as possible, but a thorough investigation does take time.”
In addition to Anonymous Queers in Action, other community groups have called for more transparency regarding the investigation.
“I think it’s great for folks to raise the question and to put pressure on BPD to provide information to the public when it comes to civilians’ deaths,” said Andrea Prichett, a founding member of Berkeley Copwatch, a volunteer organization dedicated to monitoring police actions. “I do believe the protest will raise some consciousness, and that’s a good thing.”
Prichett emphasized the need for an impartial investigation not conducted by BPD.
George Lippman, a member of the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley, another group that works to increase civilian oversight of the police, echoed Prichett, saying an “internal investigation by the police is not sufficient.”
“I will support any positive initiative that condemns unwanted killing of civilians by police, particularly on a basis of profiling or gender-based,” Lippman said. “Nothing I see about (the protest) contradicts that.”
The protest will commence at 6:30 p.m. at People’s Park. Moore’s family declined to comment for this article.