Mickerlange François, a transgender policeman was shot dead in Pétion-Ville, in a nightclub on the evening of Saturday, October 17. Two days later police apprehended Obenson Saindor, 28, aboard a motorcycle while trying to get to Dame-Marie, Grand’Anse on the coast.
Due to the public and media apathy, and the prevalence of transphobia in society and Haitian law enforcement, we are just now learning about the murder of Officer François.
After the policeman’s death, investigators focused on the community and barraged LGBT+ Haitians with excessive questions about the victim, according to Midou Blonski (pseudonym), a leader of the Haitian advocacy group FACSDIS (Femme en Action contre la Stigmatisation et la Discrimination Sexuelle/Women Taking Action Against Sexual Stigmatization and Discrimination).
This is a translated and edited account of a telephone interview of Blonski by 76 Crimes journalist Moïse Manoel:
JM: What is the political and social context surrounding this latest transphobic murder?
MB: In Haiti, it has always been difficult for LGBT+ organizations to work with police and law enforcement, as with any form of public or governmental institution.
Firstly, there is the tendency to systematically minimize the homophobic or transphobic dimension of the crime. This goes along with the fact that homosexuality and transgender identity are taboo. For example, when Maïkadou died, few people discussed his sexual orientation.
Secondly, Haitian justice is, as a rule, a slow process, which becomes even slower when it comes to hate crimes having to do with sexual orientation. This is just my sense. For example, [LGBT+ rights activist] Charlot Jeudy died on Nov. 25, 2019, but to this date the results of the autopsy have not been divulged.
Haitian justice is truly tortoise-like.
What were the circumstances of this murder?
The alleged murderer, 28-year-old Obenson Saindor, shot policeman Mickerlange François in a Pétionville nightclub on Oct. 17.
Passion and jealousy were motives, as the victim had engaged in a romantic relationship with the alleged murderer’s partner. The alleged murderer had already threatened Mickerlange’s life while telling him to stay away from his household. Unfortunately, the victim did not take these threats seriously.
The alleged murderer was apprehended with the victim’s police service weapon, a 9mm caliber revolver. Obenson was also in possession of a second revolver, which investigators said could have been used to commit the crime.
What do you think of the situation, personally?
The alleged murderer knew the policeman was a trans man. The fact that Mickerlange died because of his gender identity disgusts me.
In addition, for me, this affair illustrates the way women are treated in Haiti. They are not respected and are seen as objects. Consequently, one can kill a rival, even a trans man, as one pleases. Women are seen as property, for one’s exclusive benefit.
This homicide illustrates anew the negation of feminine desire and aspirations. Because she loved someone else, he must be killed—without reflecting on what isn’t working between the original couple. That’s the problem.
We remain in a patriarchal society where women’s desires are ignored. This mentality leads only to submission or death.
How has the murder affected people?
This affair didn’t hit major headlines. All we know is that the alleged assassin was caught in the south, in Cavaillon, in the Cayes region.
Within the LGBT+ community, the murder caused a stir because it added to a long list of deaths and disappearances.
In national public opinion, however, these crimes had already been judged insignificant, despite their frequency.
At the organizational level, do you try to prevent this type of murder?
We already advocate for women’s rights. We fight for the right to equal justice for LGBT cases. Sadly, we see that this is still not enough.
If you have information on a transgender murder that you feel is not being investigated one option is to connect with TCops International.
This is a group comprised of retired and former police and sheriff’s detectives and retired and former federal investigators who are trans* themselves or who are proven close allies of the LGBTQ+ community. They have an understandable interest in the deaths of trans* and gender-diverse individuals, and they understand the justice system and how homicide and death investigations work. This enables them to interact with local, state, and federal law enforcement on a peer/professional level and hopefully open communications regarding these cases.
On facebook TCops Internationl
Website Tcops International.org