Jacksonville, Florida, is reeling again. There are more questions than answers, but what little information there is hints that the trend of anti-trans violence didn’t end last year.
“There’s a lot of fear across the state,” Gina Duncan, director of transgender equality at Equality Florida, tells NewNowNext. “In doing this work statewide, there’s a definite feeling of frustration, of exhaustion, of mistrust in the fact that we led this nation last year in transgender murders.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) is investigating an attempted murder of an unnamed victim who was severely beaten and dragged behind a car for two blocks early Friday, Sept. 27, morning. Police say the video footage was too graphic to release to the public. The victim’s name has not been released, but local station News4Jax reported that the victim was transgender, according to their neighbors.
The victim was transported to a local hospital on Friday and remains in life-threatening condition, JSO said in a statement.
On Sunday, police arrested Eric Shaun Bridges, 34, in connection with the attack. Bridges has been charged with attempted murder.
“Detectives identified, collected, and analyzed evidence gathered in and around the crime scene, as well as in the vehicle used during this horrendous crime,” according to JSO. “As a result of the continued efforts of the assigned detectives, a person of interest quickly turned into a suspect, and that individual was located and detained midday Sunday.”
But the crime sparks painful memories for Jacksonville, still healing from one of the worst spates of anti-trans violence in history. Last summer, the city saw three transgender homicides against black trans women. Celine Walker, 36, Antash’a English, 38, and Cathalina Christina James, 24, were all killed within months of each other. A fourth anonymous trans woman survived a shooting, while Jessie Sumlar, 30, a gay man who did drag, was killed in his apartment in July. In nearby Orlando, Sasha Garden, 27, who performed at the same clubs as some of the victims, was shot to death the same day as Sumlar.
The extraordinary string of violence sparked fears that a serial killer was targeting Jacksonville’s trans community. Some trans people feared setting foot outside their homes.
“I know a couple of friends that are like, ‘Hey, I’m scared to go out of my house,’ like they have literally been ordering in,” David Herrell a friend of English, told INTO last year.
Florida has continued to struggle with anti-trans violence. Earlier this month, trans woman Bee Love, 23, was burned to death in car in Hendry County.
Duncan says the epidemic has hit a breaking point in the state. She wants to see a response from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
“You would think if that was seven middle-class white housewives who were attacked in such a horrific way,Tallahassee would be on fire with action, and our legislators would be devoting energy and resources to solving these murders and ensuring that they don’t continue.”