Poughkeepsie march against violence facing Black women and Black trans women
Poughkeepsie, NY – More than 100 people gathered in Poughkeepsie in upstate New York for a vigil and protest march, October 17, centered on the endemic violence facing Black women and Black trans women in the United States.
Protesters came from across the Hudson Valley, a popular tourist destination 90 minutes north of New York City. The Hudson Valley is noted for its spectacular fall foliage, its apple orchards, microbreweries, rock climbing and hiking trails. But the Hudson Valley is also a prison economy with nine of the largest prisons in the state of New York. Many of the towns suffer economic underdevelopment and poverty.
Demonstrators gathered at Harriet Tubman Park in the heart of downtown to protest the 33 murders of trans women in 2020, the highest number ever recorded in the U.S., with five trans women having been murdered in the past few weeks.
Black and brown trans women are disproportionately affected by the violent transphobia facing our society. As of this report 33 trans or gender-nonconforming people have been murdered in 2020 – the vast majority of them have been Black and Latino women.
The October 17 demonstration made a critical link between the increase of murders of trans women in our streets and the vicious brutality of police forces around our country that are taking the lives of Black women in particular.
Holding candles and signs, protesters marched from Harriet Tubman Park to the Poughkeepsie Police Station making stops at the courthouse, microbreweries and other locations where the contrast between neglect and gentrification is apparent. Gentrification is a major issue in the Hudson Valley, with the COVID pandemic accelerating the process. More than 17,000 people have moved into the mid-Hudson Valley since March when the virus began to shut down New York. The cost of housing has skyrocketed while a large ‘urban renewal project’ seeks to drive up the costs of rental apartments, and new construction projects cater to the needs of tech transplants. The projects are displacing poor and working-class folks, particularly the Black community in towns like Kingston, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie.
There's a whitewashing taking place in the Hudson Valley as economic development areas target poor and working-class Black neighborhoods. As the march stopped in front of luxury hotels and fancy restaurants, gentrification was a topic of the speeches.
The march was organized by WE SYSTERS. The multi-national crowd had fantastic hand painted signs that read, “Say her name,” “Farmers against white supremacy,” “Support Black womxn” and “Black lives matter.”
There was a righteous anger in the crowd as sisters blockaded the exit to the Mid-Hudson Bridge on a packed weekend with the roads filled with tourist traffic. The demonstration is indicative of the fact that a strong momentum continues to build against the rampant police violence and murder targeting the Black and Latino communities and the rise of transphobic violence. As the protest chants stated, “We're not going to take it anymore – we're going to shut the city down.”