In very few instances is justice carried out for trans people in this country. More often than not, as Bamby Salcedo knows, trans folks (especially trans folks of color) are discriminatorily targeted by law enforcement, their rights thrown away and their vulnerability exploited for momentary gain.
Those injustices are a major part of why she organizes actions in Los Angeles to draw attention to the number of trans women of color murdered in 2015. But when Salcedo was assaulted and berated at a Target in affluent nearby Glendale by an increasingly aggressive stranger, she successfully defended herself, all while winning justice and avoiding arrest. In a new piece for Fusion, she details the assault, as well as the circumstances and context under which the aggressor was arrested.
The whole piece is worth a read, but several quotes really illuminate the power of her actions. In detailing the assault and response, she talked about the injuries sustained and the steps she took when police finally arrived:
I was on the phone with my sister, and I tried ignoring him, but he kept using more hateful language. He was getting louder and closer. And then he spat on me.
I had to defend myself until security arrived. I had to move quickly because the person assaulted me. I had to respond. The deer unleashed. I was verbally and physically assaulted, which resulted in physical injuries. This all happened just a mile away from Los Angeles city limits at a Target in Glendale, California.
When police arrived they interviewed him first, and as I waited to be questioned I thought of CeCe McDonald and other trans women of color who have been jailed for defending themselves. I was afraid I was going to be the one to get arrested. So at that moment I decided to take out my phone and record a video of what was happening while I waited for the interrogation process to end. I uploaded the video to Facebook so that my community instantly heard of what happened.
The video is posted in the Fusion piece. Salcedo later talks about the circumstances under which the aggressor was arrested, and how she rightfully feared that she might be arrested instead:
The Glendale Police Department is charging this man with one misdemeanor count of assault and one misdemeanor count hate crime charge. But at the moment I worried I would end up in jail. As transgender women of color, we often are criminalized and convicted simply by being who we are. The way that police arrest us, in their minds we’re already convicted. The way police can approach people can be intimidating, and that can prevent some people from reporting.
But I am an empowered trans woman that is part of a community—that’s not the same case for every trans women.
Read Salcedo’s full testimonial at Fusion.