[UPDATE BELOW] A transgender woman who was brutally beaten in Harlem on Saturday night succumbed to her injuries yesterday in Harlem Hospital. Islan Nettles, 21, was with her friend, another transgender woman, when she was beaten by a group of men during an argument around 11 p.m. on Saturday. Police sources tell NY1 "the argument took place after the suspect learned that Nettles was not born a female."
The NYPD press office told us a suspect has been arrested and charged with assault, and more information will be released later this morning. [See below for more info.]
Nettles previously used the names Vaughn Nettles and Alon Nettles, and according to her LinkedIn page, she dreamed of a career in fashion. She previously interned at Ay' Medici, a Harlem design house.
A joint statement released by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilmember Robert Jackson and Councilmember Inez Dickens says, "We are outraged by reports of a possible hate crime that resulted in the tragic death of a transgender woman in Harlem. The 21 year old victim was walking home with friends when she was brutally assaulted." Public Advocate Bill de Blasio issued this statement:
This is a horrifying and painful moment for our city. Ms. Nettles' murder was crime rooted in hate and ignorance. My heart goes out to her family and her friends as they come to terms with this inexplicable act of violence.
Make no mistake: The denial of fundamental rights to transgender New Yorkers fuels the appalling violence this community continues to face. That must end. Delivering justice here requires we investigate this hate crime and hold the perpetrator or perpetrators fully responsible. But it also demands we finally affirm the rights of transgender New Yorkers as full and equal members of our city, state and country.
And Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said, "The savage beating death of a transgender women in Harlem this past weekend was an appalling and unacceptable crime that has no place in New York City. We pride ourselves on tolerance and generosity toward others in this City, but the murder of Islan Nettles is a reminder of how far we still have to go in ensuring that all New Yorkers can walk the streets with dignity and safety. My thoughts and prayers are with Nettle's family, and I urge anyone with knowledge of this deplorable act to immediately contact the New York Police Department."
Anyone with information about the murder can make an anonymous tip the the NYPD via the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.
Update 10:20 a.m.: According to the criminal complaint, the suspect is a 20-year-old man named Paris Wilson. He's charged with Assault in the Third Degree and Harassment in the Second Degree, and he's currently out on bail.
Additional charges are likely forthcoming. A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation says that after the beating, someone came into the police precinct and made incriminating statements about their involvement.