A 33 year-old Black transgender woman from Oakland is being recognized as at least the 50th transgender or gender non-conforming person in America that was murdered or faced a violent death in 2021.
Nikai David was gunned down last week, on the early morning of December 3, in West Oakland. She is also believed to be the 129th murder victim in the city in 2021.
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The shooting took place around 4:00 am on the 1400 block of Castro Street, and police believe an altercation took place before David received a bullet wound in her head.
David had just turned 33 years old a week before her death. She was a model and aspiring social media influencer who wanted to open a clothing boutique. She was described as fun-loving, considerate, and “really sweet,” according to friends and loved ones.
The Human Rights Campaign records David’s death as at least the 50th fatal trans or non-conforming victim to violence in 2021, a year that the organization has already declared is the deadliest on record since they began tracking violence against trans people in 2013.
At least two other trans people have been killed in California this year. Natalia “Smüt” Lopez was killed on April 23 in San Jose, CA — someone she was romantically involved with was arrested and charged initially for her death. Then, on June 8, 21 year-old Poe Delwyn Black was found stabbed to death. Their body was found on May 11 in Niland, CA.
“Learning about Nikai David’s death is disheartening and alarming,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement for the organization. “In the year that we’ve marked as the deadliest year on record for our community, we continue to see a frightening rate of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. We must all continue to demand that the violence cease.
“David was a young person with so much life ahead of her. For her future to have been violently taken away from her serves as a reminder that we remain with so much work ahead of us to ensure a safe and loving world for all,” Cooper concluded.
“I am heartbroken to hear about the killing of Nikai,” Victoria Kirby York, Deputy Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), said in another statement. “My hope for 2022 is that people will start giving this epidemic the attention it desperately needs to stop it. We have lost too many siblings, and we will continue to lose more if action is not taken.”
“We mourn the loss of Nikai David, a beloved community member and Black transgender woman who was killed in Oakland yesterday,” the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center said on Facebook, noting “she was also a close friend to Center employee Ashlee Banks.”
Banks remembered David in an interview with KTVU.
“Nikai was really sweet. She was a happy, fun person,” she said. “I was really devastated when I found out, when I got the news.”
She concluded, “To the people who harmed her, I just hope that justice is served.”
A public information officer told Oxygen, “At this time, there is no evidence suggesting this was a hate crime,” although they haven’t disclosed any potential motives for the shooting and no arrests have been made.
The Oakland Police Department encourages anyone with information to contact their Homicide Section at 510-238-3821, or the department’s tip line at 510-238-7950.