Koko Nia LabeijaAge 19 (born 29 May 2001)
6 Jun 2020
Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Koko's body was found in an abandoned building on Saturday 6th June. She remained unidentified until April 2021.
Back on June 6, 2020, in Chicago, IL, the body of a young Black trans person was found in an abandoned building [at 7908 S Laflin]. They were decomposed, so they'd probably been there for a while. About 5'9" and 173lbs. Wearing a one piece bathing suit and pink lycra shorts.
Case Number: ME2020-07322
Date Found: 06/06/2020
Location Found: 7908 S Laflin, Chicago, IL 60620
Description: [Female], Black, approximately [16-20] years old; 5’9”, 173 lbs.; Short curly brown hair, brown eyes; Clothing: black with white stripes on sides body suit, pink shorts
Koko attended Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, who held a memorial event for her on Friday. She worked at Oberweis Creamery, described herself as “a makeup artist in the making.” and was a fan of the Kardashians.
Her Twitter profile reads:
“Hey guys and gals. I love the Kardashians/Jenners. My favorite word is Bible. I love Fashion and makeup. Peace out.”
Given how she was dressed when she died, we can only assume that the misgendering by the police and morgue were acts of stubborn institutional transphobia - and ones which most certainly hindered her identification. As Sue Kerr of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents so eloquently puts it:
I struggle to understand that the police did not even consider that her identity was female or nonbinary especially given that she was wearing clothing considered women’s, including Pink-Colored Lycra Shorts. That resonates so visually in my mind. I flashback to the 2013 murder of Cemia Dove whose body was found tied to concrete while “clad in a red Betty Boop tank top, three black bras and a light black hooded jacket.” Beyond the deliberate indignity, I carry just this intense memory of the colors.
Rest in power, Koko. We failed you repeatedly, even as you walked through this world seeing beauty. Your life and death matter.
May your memory be a revolution.
Koko's Facebook and Twitter profiles are https://www.facebook.com/kokolabeija and https://twitter.com/king_kashdashjr. She also had a YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjVbjBnFEhwThJQXD4QwsMQ.