Emotion is growing surrounding the police shooting death in St. Louis of a transgender woman, Kiwi Herring, in whose name several vigils have been held.
Police initially identified Kiwi Herring as a man named Kenneth Herring, and she was called Kenny by a family member, but she went by the name Kiwi. The police identification has upset activists who say that Kiwi identified as a woman. On Twitter, the hashtag #KiwiHerring is trending, and protests have been organized.
Activists say that Herring and her partner had dealt with ongoing harassment in the neighborhood, although police allege that Herring slashed a neighbor and police officer with a knife before officers shot her to death.
The situation is growing even more tense. Several protesters were injured when a car struck several of them, although police and witness accounts of what happened differed.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Shot Herring After They Say She Slashed an Officer’s Arm & Injured a Neighbor
The transgender woman “was shot and killed by St. Louis police at her apartment just north of downtown early Tuesday morning” August 22, according to KMOV-TV.
Police alleged that Herring “cut an officer with a knife, but some believe police made the move to end her life too early,” the television station reported.
According to The Huffington Post, Herring was armed with a “kitchen knife.”
Around 8 a.m., “officers received two calls…for cutting,” Acting Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said in a news conference. “When they arrived there, they met the victim who was severely cut and who identified the suspect who had cut him…officers went to take the suspect in custody. The suspect (Herring) flourished a knife and slashed at the officers, slicing the one officer on the arm. The officers fired and shot and killed the suspect.”
One officer has 7 years on the force and the other has 9. “The victim identified the suspect, and the victim had severe cuts,” the chief said of the civilian male injured, who has not been identified. “The suspect resisted.”
“There’s been several calls to this address for domestic incidents,” the chief said. He also said there had been a fire at the residence the night before and “another altercation this morning.”
It’s a two-flat residence. The officer who was slashed “will be treated and released,” the chief said. “It’s not that severe of an injury.”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch provided this account: “Police arrived to find a man, 30, suffering from serious stab wounds to his face, arms and torso, according to the department. The victim identified his attacker as Herring, police said. Officers tried to arrest Herring, who then stabbed an officer in the arm with a large kitchen knife, according to police.”
2. Kiwi Was Remembered as the ‘Life of the Party’ & Was a Mother of Three
Family members expressed grief on social media.
Lena Michelle wrote on Facebook, “RIP uncle Kenny Herring made the best sandwiches and alway (sic) was the life of the party!” KMOV reported that Herring “was a mother of three little boys ages 8 and younger.” Herring was a native of Mississippi, according to the Huffington Post.
An online fundraiser for Kiwi Herring described her as “a parent and a human beloved by the neighborhood children around her. Kiwi fed people with love and had a contagious smile.”
Yung Groove wrote, “I can’t believe after going on nine to ten long years I would get a call saying my brother hve been killed by a f*ckin police n st Louis man If u got family DAT u care Abu are luv man luv them plze cause time wait on no one pray for me cuh I’m hurting man I wanna see my nephews lord who gone be there now lord who.”
Groove added, “Waken up with u on my mind still cant stop the pain I have n my heart cuh I’m hurt n lost without u bro I wanna really see u but I can’t just because of how u was that’s craxi just know I love the hell outcha bro.”
3. A Car Struck People Protesting Herring’s Death but Accounts Conflict
It’s become a scene all too familiar: A car driving into a crowd of pedestrians, leaving people injured.
Fox News reported that at least three people were injured when the car “drove into the crowd.” You can see a video that circulated on social media above and photos below.
According to The St. Louis Post Dispatch, the accounts of a witness and police differ, however. The witness, Keith Rose, “said the driver had his middle fingers raised before he accelerated through the group of people who were blocking Manchester Avenue and Sarah Street in the Grove neighborhood,” the newspaper reported.
“But St. Louis police said the driver stopped, honked and attempted to drive around the protesters before some of them surrounded his car and began hitting it with their hands and a flag pole,” The Post Dispatch reported, adding that a police spokeswoman said “three protesters were injured after they jumped onto the car and fell off when the driver pulled away.”
The driver, who has not yet been identified, is in custody.
4. Relatives & Friends Say Herring Was Being Harassed
A relative alleges that Herring was dealing with harassment in the neighborhood.
“Kiwi was harassed and executed and it’s a horrible feeling,” said Herring’s sister-in-law, Crevonda Nance to The Huffington Post.
Nance alleged to The Huffington Post that “Herring had been a victim of ongoing harassment, which came to a head Tuesday morning.”
The news site reported that police are investigating those allegations as well as what happened. A man who said he attended the protest wrote a similar account that he said provided details shared by activists at it.
“Kiwi and her partner both identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ Community. Kiwi and her partner were from Mississippi. Since they moved to St. Louis, they have experience harassment as a ‘queer couple,’ the man wrote.
“Late last night, there was a fire set on their back porch,” he alleged. “An altercation between the couple and a person or people harassing them broke out over the setting of the fire. The fire got put out and the couple returned to their home. Early this morning in another fight with folks harassing Kiwi and her partner, one (or more) people got stabbed. The person who got stabbed called the police. When the police came, they spoke with the person who got stabbed, and then entered Kiwi’s residence, where she was shot and killed by the police. Kiwi’s partner was then arrested at the scene.”
Police had not yet confirmed those details.
Police also arrested a 28-year-old woman named Kristy Thompson, who, according to The Post Dispatch, was “charged with armed criminal action and assault.” Nance told the newspaper that “Thompson is a transgender man who was married to Herring.”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch also reported, “Some family and friends said the couple had been harassed and felt threatened since they moved to the neighborhood from Mississippi several years ago.”
5. At Least 17 Transgender People Have Died in 2017 of Violence
According to the Human Rights campaign, “2017 has already seen at least 17 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means.” You can see a full list of those people here.
HRC added, “In 2016, advocates tracked at least 22 deaths of transgender people in the United States due to fatal violence, the most ever recorded. These victims were killed by acquaintances, partners and strangers, some of whom have been arrested and charged, while others have yet to be identified. Some of these cases involve clear anti-transgender bias. In others, the victim’s transgender status may have put them at risk in other ways, such as forcing them into homelessness.”