Washington, DC - Community members expressed outrage at the sentencing of Metropolitan Police Department Officer Kenneth Furr, who was released from prison today after convictions of assault with a deadly weapon and soliciting prostitution. In August of 2012, a group that included black trans women and gay men confronted Furr after he harassed one of them for refusing his sexual advances. Furr consequently shot at the individuals involved, wounding several of them. Because the judge suspended 46 months of the 60 month sentence, Furr left jail having already served the remaining 14 months.
"This result is the product of a legal system that constantly devalues trans people's lives," said DC Trans Coalition member Jason Terry. "Officer Furr's defense team actively sought to portray the victims as somehow deserving of this violence, and apparently they succeeded. If roles had been reversed and a trans woman had gotten drunk and flashed a gun at a police officer, the results would be drastically different." It is important to note that Furr was convicted only of flashing a weapon at two gay men involved in the incident, not for shooting at the trans women and others involved.
Several studies document deep levels of mistrust toward police in trans communities. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 46% of trans people are reluctant to call police when they need police services. The Move Along study here in DC noted that 78% of respondents feared the police. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has found that transgender people of color are nearly two and a half times more likely to face violence from police officers than other lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and trans white people. DCTC's own needs assessment found in its first phase that safety and risk is a paramount concern. DCTC expects that the results of our survey phase will reinforce these other findings.
"Officer Furr exemplifies why this fear exists," said Terry. "DC's trans communities face blatant discrimination, harassment, and violence from police officers every day, yet when an officer drunkenly shoots at trans people, accountability seems to disappear."
The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) is a volunteer, grassroots, community-based organization dedicated to fighting for human rights, dignity, and liberation for transsexual, transgender and gender-diverse people in the District of Columbia. To learn more, please visit our website at http://www.dctranscoalition.org.