Loved ones remember trans woman Savannah Ryan Williams killed in ‘hate crime’ shooting

LGBTQ
A picture of two trans flags waving in an open area.

Family, friends, activists, and lawmakers gathered this week to mourn trans woman Savannah Ryan Williams, who was killed in a targeted shooting they describe as a “hate crime.”

Savannah Ryan Williams, 38, was shot in the head and killed near on 29 November in what friends are describing as a “hate crime.”

A man has since been charged with second-degree murder and, according to court documents seen by local NBC affiliate KARE11, admitted to the killing in a phone call with police.

Speaking to StarTribune, Minnesota’s first trans state lawmaker Rep. Leigh Finke said: “Savannah should be alive today. Because Savannah is a trans woman, she is dead.

Stock image of a trans flag waving in the wind
Loved ones are remembering trans woman Savannah Ryan Williams this week, who was killed in a targeted shooting that they believe was a “hate crime”. (Getty Images)

“Transphobia is rampant in America, and it is deadly. Our community faces a constant threat of lethal violence in the United States.”

William’s sister Gabrielle Stillday remembers her as her children’s favourite auntie who had a big heart.

“Savannah is our superstar,” she said. “She meant the word to me and my kids. She was very loved by our family.”

Savannah was a member of the local support group Tea Time, where she and others would speak about the joy and the challenges that came with being a trans woman.

Amber Muhm, another member of Tea Time, told KARE 11 that what happened to Williams was a “hate crime.”

“It just needs to stop,” she continued. “We have to be able to walk in public and not just be constantly looking over our shoulder and constantly worried about what’s going to happen.”

Tea Time remembers Williams as a woman who was “fierce, full of life, with a big personality and an even bigger heart.”

A person holds up a trans flag.
Savannah was a member of the local support group Tea Time, where she and others would speak about the joy and the challenges that came with being a trans woman. (Getty)

The man charged with second-degree murder is 25-year-old Damarean Kaylon Bible, who told police that he shot Williams after she engaged in oral sex with him and he began to feel “suspicious” of her.

In a call from jail, Bible told his father that he felt sorry for killing Williams, but felt he “had to do it.”

The horrific murder has sparked calls from activists, lawmakers and loved ones to protect transgender people from targeted violence.

“We have a right to life,” Rep. Leigh Finke told KARE 11. “Savannah had a right to live; she should be alive. There is no other detail that matters. Being murdered and being murdered in the way that this happened is gruesome.”

The State Rep. noted that, despite Minnesota voting to become a trans refuge state this year, the “laws are not enough.”

“In these conditions, policy cannot save us,” she told StarTribune.

“Anti-trans violence is an epidemic. It is everywhere. Our communities will not be safe until every one of our neighbors sees our humanity, celebrates our individuality and embraces this beautiful community that loves and is worthy of love.”

Bible’s bail has been set at $1 million and faces up to 40 years in prison if found guilty of murder.

A GoFundMe has been set up to cover costs of William’s memorial service, set to be held over the weekend.

Anyone in the UK who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999. In the US, anyone who experiences or witnesses a hate crime can report it to police at 911 in an emergency or to the FBI’s Victim Services Division.

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