Trial for the Murder of Lateisha Green Receives Total Media Blackout

IMPORTANT UPDATE/CORRECTION/RETRACTION: I just found an article from earlier this month, which does not provide a trial date but says that the trial begins in mid-July.  So far it’s the only source I’ve found showing anything other than the original June 11 trial date, and I’ve yet to find anything actually saying that it has moved.  I’m looking, but it is my best guess at this point.

Either way, the trial obviously isn’t getting the coverage it deserves if I can’t even find this much basic information until about my 10th attempt, if Monica, who is following the case significantly more closely than I am also couldn’t find the info, and if no one bothered to actually note a change after repeatedly reporting the June 11th date.  But we can at least hope that it might not be as bad as we thought.

In light of all the above, I’m moving the original post below the jump.

—-

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about the upcoming trial of Dwight DeLee for the murder of Lateisha Green.  Green was a trans woman, and it was anticipated that DeLee would attempt to use the trans panic defense, so the post involved a call to write to local Syracuse media asking them to follow style guides prescribing the use of correct names and pronouns for transgender persons.

This trial was scheduled to start yesterday, June 11.  Today, I just read this post over at Transgriot, and I am shocked and appalled.  It seems that those letters may have just been useless.  Not because the media is misgendering Lateisha — but because they’re not covering the trial at all:

Yesterday the trial of the alleged killer of Lateisha Green, Dwight DeLee started in Syracuse.

You wouldn’t know that because if you Google it, check the local Syracuse media, the website of the Onondaga County DA’s office, and even the websites of GLBT groups in the area, you won’t find anything on the DeLee trial except old stories and link backs to TransGriot.

I guess if the victim is a Black transwoman, nobody gives a shit, especially if the trial is falling just before the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion that peeps who share Lateisha’s ethnic heritage helped jump off.

Try it out yourself.  Because before writing this post, I too took a look.  There was not a single hit through Google News for an article noting the start of the trial — though now, this blog post may pop up.  Searching the websites of the individual media sources out of Syracuse turns up absolutely nothing as well.  Not even a tiny little blurb saying that the trial has been postponed for some reason, which I was hoping against hope might be the explanation.

So, as Monica also notes in her post, we know nothing about the opening statements, whether or not DeLee’s lawyers are using the trans panic defense, whether Lateisha is being mischaracterized and misgendered, or if her family has anything to say about the trial.  Nothing at all.

Lateisha Green is dead.  She is dead, it is believed, because someone hated her on the basis of her gender identity.  And now, whether because of transphobia, racism or misogyny — or my best guess, a mixture of all three — the media can’t even be bothered to mark the beginnings of the trial for her alleged murderer.  Not with so much as a single word.


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27 comments for “Trial for the Murder of Lateisha Green Receives Total Media Blackout

  1. June 12, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    This is just terrible. Even though the coverage of Angies trial was rife with transphobic terminology at least they covered it. I was hoping the same would be true here as this is also a hate crime. Shame on the MSM. Their very silence on this issue is indicative of which bodies we believe matter socially.

  2. June 12, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    i too tried to google anything, but like you, found nothing. this is unacceptable. it just illustrates who is and isn’t important, and apparently Lateisha’s death and the trial of her alleged killer is not important.

  3. June 12, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    The bodies that matter socially to prevailing global culture are, in general, male bodies of men acting like men are “supposed” to act by masculine gender definition, sad to say. Not providing information about the trial for the murder of Lateisha Green compounds the murder itself (horrible as an act of irrevocable violence) with a collective disrespect of dialog — even when we do not agree on all points — about the meaning of being a human who seeks freedom from violence.

    To put it in the biggest-picture context possible, consider what Harvard and Oxford men of science have said about “Demonic Males.” Demonic not as woo-woo religion but as the anthropological and zoological cause of male-dominant violence. This is the violent multi-cultural ground of being — no abstraction of theory — by which all transwomen and woman-born women (and unmasculine males as well as children) are typically subordinated to male-dominant views (if not violence) throughout global culture. You can see the Harvard and Oxford information at http://thelongestwar.wordpress.com/

  4. June 12, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I just posted an update — I found one article which states that the trial is starting in mid-July. It’s the only source I’ve found that says anything other than the original June 11 date, and I can’t find anything saying that the date was actually moved, either. As I said, I looked before.

    Which means that the best we can hope for is the media doing a really, really shitty job of covering any updates to the case. But still perhaps better than was thought.

  5. evil_fizz
    June 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Some of the news I’ve seen includes alternate spellings of her name. Googling for the killer’s name indicates that the hate crime charge was was upheld only a week ago and that the start of the trial’s been delayed. They’re still doing pre-trial motions, so I doubt there is anything to report.

    Also, from the article you linked in the update, it says that the defense’s theory of the case is that DeLee didn’t know about Green’s gender identity, so it can’t be a hate crime. Not much in the way of answers, but something.

  6. June 12, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    The bodies that matter socially to prevailing global culture are, in general, male bodies of men acting like men are “supposed” to act by masculine gender definition, sad to say. Not providing information about the trial for the murder of Lateisha Green compounds the murder itself (horrible as an act of irrevocable violence) with a collective disrespect of dialog — even when we do not agree on all points among ourselves — about the meaning of being a human who seeks freedom from violence.

    To put it in the biggest-picture context possible, consider what Harvard and Oxford men of science have said about “Demonic Males.” Demonic not as woo-woo religion but as the anthropological and zoological cause of male-dominant violence. This is the violent multi-cultural ground of being — no abstraction of theory — by which all transwomen and woman-born women (and unmasculine males as well as children) are typically subordinated to male-dominant views (if not violence) throughout global culture.

    You can see the Harvard and Oxford information here

  7. June 12, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Actually the html tag I tried to use for “here” may not work; you can click on my name to find the blog page with the Harvard and Oxford information. It’s my hope that we can see the violence for what it is and agree to disagree among ourselves on the matters of theory about how best to end the violence — maybe if we can end denial about the big picture of violence (overwhelmingly enacted by men) we can move to a new level of action about how best to live the beauty of our diversity.

  8. June 12, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Okay, changed the update again. It seems that the trial has been moved, and we’re dealing with really fucking bad reporting rather than a blackout. Which is a step up, if a crappy one. Since it’s 7:30 on a Friday, I of course can’t call the DA’s office to find out for sure if the trial has been moved until Monday. So, there we go. It sucks, but it’s all I’ve got.

  9. denelian
    June 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    i grant my Google-fu is less cool than most, but…

    yeah, nuthin. i only find the article you linked because you linked it.

    isn’t the media SUPPOSED to report when trials have been moved? isn’t that part of their *job*?!

  10. eastsidekate
    June 12, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    First, I’ve got local news on a few hours each day, and yeah, nothing on the Dwight DeLee trial.

    I think there are a bunch of problems with the media (non) coverage here in Syracuse. The fact society doesn’t value the lives of trans people is certainly a factor in the non-coverage, but there’s also racism. The issue, IMO, isn’t simply that Green was black, but rather that Syracuse is an economically depressed city with huge pockets of poverty, largely inhabited by people of color. Stabbings, shootings and assault are all pretty commonplace in town, particularly in a handful of neighborhoods. When the violence happens between poor people of color (as was the case with Green’s murder), the local media doesn’t devote much time to it. Unless a police officer or young white person gets shot, I’m not sure if folks in the suburbs really care– certainly, the media doesn’t seem to think so.

  11. June 13, 2009 at 6:49 am

    First, I’ve got local news on a few hours each day, and yeah, nothing on the Dwight DeLee trial.

    I think there are a bunch of problems with the media (non) coverage here in Syracuse. The fact society doesn’t value the lives of trans people is certainly a factor in the non-coverage, but there’s also racism. The issue, IMO, isn’t simply that Green was black, but rather that Syracuse is an economically depressed city with huge pockets of poverty, largely inhabited by people of color. Stabbings, shootings and assault are all pretty commonplace in town, particularly in a handful of neighborhoods. When the violence happens between poor people of color (as was the case with Green’s murder), the local media doesn’t devote much time to it. Unless a police officer or young white person gets shot, I’m not sure if folks in the suburbs really care– certainly, the media doesn’t seem to think so.
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  12. Northeast Elizabeth
    June 13, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I would agree that, in general, the case is receiving less coverage than it deserves. The mere fact that one HAS to search under alternate spellings of the victim’s name shows that the press doesn’t care enough to pin down a basic point of information which could be obtained from the family or court records.

    As to reporting the change in trial dates, however, I’m not so sure. Adjournments on consent of the parties are quite common. If the only development in the case was the date change, it might not be enough to report. The Phil Spector case got a hugh amount of publicity, but as it dragged on I don’t every adjournment got reported. Usually, I think it’s just when there’s a surprise motion on the eve of trial that the delay gets publicized.

  13. June 13, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Hi,

    I just wanted you to know that Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund has been working with Lateisha’s family since her murder last fall. The trial is set to begin on Monday, July 13. It was delayed from its original June start date for a host of reasons, but dates change regularly in court proceedings, and this was nothing unusual. Right now, it looks like July 13 will stick. We’re working closely with local groups in Syracuse, and we’re planning to be on the ground in Syracuse throughout Lateisha’s trial. The media did cover the most recent development in the case, which is that the Court rejected Dwight DeLee’s request that it throw out the hate crimes charges against him because (he argued) the hate crimes statute is unconstitutional. The hate crimes and murder charges stand, and everything is currently moving towards the July 13th trial date. Please contact us directly if you have any questions (www.transgenderlegal.org), but we’re definitely on this, and are doing a lot of background planning to ensure that the trial gets as much coverage as possible, locally and nationally. Lateisha’s family wants to make sure that people learn something from this awful situation. I hope this information is helpful. Please pass it on to any other sites/blogs that have raised similar concerns.

    Thank you.

    Michael Silverman
    Executive Director
    Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

  14. June 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    This case is a disgusting example of what mainstream society constitutes as a loss. I do not think so much that her race has a lot to do with the level of coverage that this trial is/will receive, because the media does cover trials of racialized people. Rather, the lack of coverage thus far has everything to do with the fact that Lateisha Green was transgendered. As has been demonstrated time and again through the gay marriage debate, an unfortunate amount of people feel threatened by anything outside of their norm because it forces them to actually think about the complex issues of gender, sexuality, and identity. And frankly, there is just no sympathy for the loss of a person like Lateisha because mainstream society has no care for the lives of anyone who pushes the boundaries of what is deemed ‘normal.’ That is the tragedy in this situation.

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  16. Butch Fatale
    June 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Amanda –

    First, racialized people? Really? You mean people of color? Because everyone has a race, including white people. And while the media will cover trials of people of color, frequently when young black women are killed or go missing in this country, it is not covered by the media – wherever it happens. Check out http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com/ for more info on that.

    Most of all, I’d like to point out that the tragedy here is that a young woman is dead. The lack of coverage and concern for trans women, women of color and trans women of color, as well as other marginalized people who are killed every year is of course also tragic. But Lateisha Green is not a symbol, and her death and the treatment of her and other trans women of color is far worse than whether or not I can get married. I get that you’re trying to talk about a larger picture of how society views marginalized people, but the murder of trans people is not an appropriate analogy to the same-sex marriage debate.

  17. June 13, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Co-signing on Butch Fatale’s comment.

  18. Colin Day
    June 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    @Jude

    About your comment #5: Are you saying that nonviolent males are not masculine?

  19. June 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Colin, thank you for drawing my attention to Jude’s comment, because as I was busy running around with updates, I didn’t see it before.

    I honestly don’t even know what you’re going on about, Jude, in half of your comment, but — we do not say “woman-born woman” around here. You can say cis, cisgender, cissexual, or even non-trans to get across the concept you were going for. The term that was used is not acceptable, and if you don’t know why you can google it. And if I had seen the comment earlier it would have been deleted.

  20. June 13, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Cara,
    A Facebook group is cranking up as well to mobilize the community.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91245428796&ref=nf#/group.php?gid=91245428796

    Thanks for the link to my post on TransGriot as well. I’m not resting until Dwight DeLee is rotting away in jail for what he did.

  21. anonyme
    June 14, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I’m from Syracuse; the lack of coverage and the lack of community support are likely due to the fact that local groups are notoriously anti-trans (there was a huge spit in Syracuse’s queer community several years ago because trans people in the area wanted to get active, and GLAS thought they would lose face if trans people suddenly became visible at local events). They’re also crap at organizing anything other than the local pride parade (hell, they let their own bookstore, My Sister’s Words, close due to lack of business.) Further, queer community here is comprised overwhelmingly of white, middle class, conservative professors from Syracuse University and their white, middle class students and alumni. They don’t give a crap about who’s killing who on the South Side, which is overwhelmingly poor and black.

  22. Ami
    June 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Reading this post today is the first I have heard about the story. After reading this article I found it interesting that the msnbc headlines scrolling across my sidebar RSS feed include “Elder Bush will parachute for 85th birthday”, “Obama writes girl a note for missing school”, and “When babies attack”. Apparently mainstream media has dubbed these events relevant and interesting enough for the reading public.

  23. Lisa
    July 6, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks anonyme, for putting the local context into the mix for us. It makes more sense now –the local media aren’t putting it out there, so the national media aren’t going to pay much attention either. Just as women of color argued many years ago, there isn’t any separating color from gender/sex in the hierarchy of loyalties…. or in this case, biases.

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