August 27, 2018 at 1:20 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Family gathers for 9th anniversary vigil for slain D.C. trans woman
Na Na Boo Mack, gay news, Washington Blade

Police, activists and friends joined the family of Tyli’a Na Na Boo Mack on Sunday to commemorate the ninth anniversary of her murder. (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

More than 50 friends, neighbors, community activists, and several D.C. police officers on Sunday joined the family of 21-year-old transgender woman Tyli’a Na Na Boo Mack for an annual cookout and vigil hosted by Mack’s mother to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the trans woman’s murder.

D.C. police said Mack was stabbed to death on Aug. 26, 2009 by an unidentified male attacker while she was walking with a female transgender friend on the 200 block of Q Street, N.W. in the city’s Shaw neighborhood in broad daylight about 2:30 p.m. Police have yet to make an arrest in the case.

Beverlyn Mack, who referred to Na Na Boo as her loving child, spoke to the gathering while standing beside local transgender advocate Earline Budd, who helped organized the vigil. Mack was also joined by several of her adult children, toddler grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Others standing nearby on the front lawn of her apartment building at 125 Ridge Road, S.E., were more than a dozen neighbors, a D.C. police homicide detective working on the Mack case, and four D.C. police officers, including Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit.

Budd and Mack family members said they invited D.C. police to attend, among other things, to promote community cooperation with police and to encourage citizens who may know something about the Mack case and other unsolved transgender murder cases to come forward with information.

Beverlyn Mack told the gathering she remains frustrated that someone hasn’t come forward in nine years to help police identify the man who took Na Na Boo Mack’s life.

“I’m an angry mother because nobody said anything in the first five or six years and the case was not being closed,” she said, referring to reports by police that a needed witness or someone with information that could help police identify the killer had yet to come forward.

“And that’s why I do this every year,” she said. “So that’s what I see now because I’m still hurting.”

Beverlyn Mack told a Blade reporter at the vigil that her sprits have been lifted from the support she has received from friends and neighbors. Before and after she spoke she supervised friends and neighbors preparing hot dogs and hamburgers on several outdoor grills for the cookout that has become part of the annual vigil in Na Na Boo Mack’s honor.

Thomas Mack, Na Na Boo’s oldest brother, and his 11-year-old son worked as a team to release a cluster of helium balloons into the sky as part of a tradition at the annual vigil to remember Na Na Boo Mack.

Budd said one of the objectives of the annual vigil for Mack is to draw attention to her and at least five other unsolved murders of transgender women in D.C. since 2000.

“We need to figure out how we bring these unsolved cases back to the forefront,” said Budd. To us they’re cold cases.”

Parson, who was among the first police officers on the scene of Mack’s murder in 2009, told the vigil that police homicide detectives continue to actively work on the Mack case.

“It may be six months from now,” he said. “It may be six years from now. But our hope is that somebody will come forward who knows something about what happened and by bringing that person to justice that did this we can start helping you mend that broken heart that you have.”

Among those attending the vigil was Tammy Reed, the aunt of slain transgender woman Tyra Henderson, 22, who was found beaten to death in an alley off of the 3600 block of 11th Street, N.W. in April of 2000. Henderson was the first of the six current unsolved transgender murders in D.C. since that year.

Police have said they have made arrests and closed six other murders of transgender women in D.C. since 2000.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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