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Police Investigate Mysterious Death of Calif. Trans Activist

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Jun 17, 2014
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Zoraida Reyes
Zoraida Reyes  (Source:Facebook)

Authorities are investigating the death of a transgender activist, whose body was found behind a Dairy Queen on June 12 in Anaheim, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reports.

Police are calling the death of Zoraida "Ale" Reyes as suspicious but say there were no immediate signs of foul play. According to the Orange County Sherriff’s Department, an autopsy has been completed but there is no cause of death due to the pending investigation.

Lt. Bob Dunn, a spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department, says a toxicology report could take weeks to be completed. Investigators hope it will help identify the cause of death.

A crowd of about 120 gathered to honor Reyes, 28, Friday evening where Marcina Reyes, the activist’s mother, said they were like her daughter’s family. Some people held signs that read, "Trans lives matter" and "Love and respect our transgender community."

"I didn’t know the family my daughter had, but I thank you," Macrina Reyes said in Spanish, according to the L.A. Times. "I know she’s here uniting us."

After Reyes’ high school friend sang a song of empowerment to the crowd, they marched through downtown Santa Ana, holding transgender flags. A number of people who attended the event say Reyes may have been the victim of violence because of her gender identity and her mother says she’s having trouble accepting her daughter’s death.

"I haven’t seen her and I still don’t believe it," she told the newspaper.

The activist’s friend Alexa Vasquez said it hurt her to know that there is violence against trans people.

"My friend had to die in order for us to come together," Vasquez said. "When I see you guys marching, I wish that I saw my friend walking with you.

The L.A. Times reports Reyes was involved in a number of immigrant and LGBT advocacy groups in Orange County. Jessica Castro, 32, was in a trans woman support group with Reyes and says she was shy but very warm.

"But she would always give you a kiss and hug when she greeted you and said goodbye," Castro said in Spanish, according to the newspaper. "I’m still in shock, you just think wow she’s gone in an instant."

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