Feb. 22—Chyna Carrillo was new to New Wilmington.
Moving here to find work as a certified nursing assistant, Carrillo's death — at the hands of Juan Carter Hernandez, who was shot and killed by New Wilmington police Thursday morning after he was seen assaulting her with a blunt object — has cast a cloud over the quiet college town.
By early Sunday evening, a candlelight vigil was aimed at bringing the community together, raising awareness for transgender violence and ultimately beginning the healing process. Held in the parking lot of The Grove New Wilmington, where she was employed, leaders from Sisters PGH joined more than 40 community members and college students for the event. Next door at the home where the incident happened, a bouquet of flowers and a note were left in remembrance.
"She was never afraid to tell you who she was," Fredricka Washington, a co-worker of Carrillo's at the nursing home, said fighting back tears. "She just wanted you all to respect her wishes, and I hate that this happened to her. I really do. I'm so sorry, Chyna. I wish you would have never met him. You deserved better."
Washington urged the crowd to do their research on people they don't know.
Ciora Thomas, founder and director of Sisters PGH — a Black and trans-led nonprofit that serves people of color, trans, and non-binary people within Southwestern Pennsylvania — spoke from behind a podium asking for equality and accountability, beginning among cisgender people. Cisgender refers to men or women assigned male or female at birth who also identify that way.
"My cisgender brothers who say you fight for us, do that and hold your cisgender brothers accountable for the transphobic agenda that weakens the structure of equity and inclusion," Thomas said. "There are violent cisgender men who are preying on us as if we have become the weakness of their society, as if we have become so disconnected and disposable that we aren't even worth saying farewell to."
Candles were passed among the crowd and a moment of silence was observed.