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New York: Police investigating trans woman’s death as possible hate crime

Unidentified suspect, 20, arrested in connection with attack on Islan Nettles

Trans woman Islan Nettles died in a Harlem hospital after being attacked. Credit: frrole.com

Police are investigating the death of a New York City transgender woman, who was beaten and targeted with anti-gay slurs, as a possible hate crime.

Authorities have arrested a suspect in connection with the Aug 17 attack on Islan Nettles, 21, who had been on life support at Harlem Hospital, the New York Post and NY1 report.

Nettles had been walking with a friend, who is also transgender, when they came across a group of people near a police precinct at 148th Street and Eighth Avenue in Harlem.

According to NY1, police say an argument broke out during which the suspect allegedly yelled anti-gay remarks and began to punch Nettles.

Nettles was initially conscious when she was taken to hospital but fell into a coma and was declared brain dead, the NY1 report says. She died Aug 22.

The attack on Nettles is the latest in a series of attacks on queer people in New York City.

In the week prior to the attack on Nettles, two gay men who were holding hands in the Chelsea neighbourhood were punched and kicked.

In May, Mark Carson was shot and killed in Greenwich Village. Prior to Carson’s murder, a gay couple was attacked near Madison Square Garden and another two gay men were assaulted in Manhattan.

In June, New York police were accused of beating a gay man and using homophobic slurs in an incident, partially caught on an iPhone video, that took place outside Brooklyn's 79th Precinct. Police had charged Josh Williams with public urination and resisting arrest, while his friends Ben Collins and Antonio Maenza were charged with obstructing government administration.

The charges against Williams were dropped, while Collins and Maenza expect to have their charges dropped in November following their arraignment.