On Saturday, local LGBTQ community leaders will hold a memorial service honoring five local residents who died over the past month, including, most notably, 27-year-old Ashanti Carmon, of Alexandria, Va., whose murder made local and national headlines.
Carmon was shot multiple times near the intersection of Aspen and Jost Streets in Fairmount Heights, Md., just over the border from the District of Columbia, in the early morning hours of Saturday, Mar. 30. Prince George’s County Police are still investigating the murder, and continue to ask anyone who may have been in the area that night to come forward with information on the case.
Local activist Earline Budd arranged for the service, which will honor Carmon and four other LGBTQ people: Chase “Seven,” who died on April 6; Kristopher Morant, who died on April 14; Patricia Queen, also known as “Cleo,” who died on April 20; and Keisha Washington, a former employee of LGBTQ community center Casa Ruby, who died on May 1.
“What happened is, after Ashanti’s murder, we have four more deaths. So what I decided to do was make it a community-wide celebration of life for Ashanti and friends because some of the others did not have a service,” explains Budd. “But all were known in the LGBTQ community, so I felt there was some closure needed in general.”
Budd notes that the service, which will take place at noon on May 11 at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C., will also include a “call for healing” that will honor the living, including the friends and loved ones of the deceased.
Budd said that she and others had initially raised money for a memorial service for Carmon, but could not identify any family members until an aunt, Deborah Carmon, came forward. Budd and Carmon both set up individual GoFundMe pages, with Budd’s page raising over $7,500 and Carmon’s raising almost $1,400.
Adding insult to injury, Carmon’s family learned that, had she been killed in D.C., the city would have immediately paid up to $6,000 for the funeral through D.C.’s Crime Victims Compensation Program. However, because she died in Prince George’s, the Maryland Criminal Injuries Compensation Board will only reimburse funeral or burial expenses up to $5,000 after the family has paid out of pocket, and submitted a request for reimbursement from the board, as reported by D.C. ABC affiliate WLJA.
Eventually, Dignity Washington, the local LGBTQ Catholic organization, donated more than $3,000 to help defray Carmon’s funeral expenses. Budd says the money she raised from the GoFundMe will go to reimburse Dignity, with the remainder being used to replenish local organization Empowering the Transgender Community’s Burial Fund. That money can be used to cover future funeral or burial expenses for other transgender community members — many of whom don’t have the financial reserves to make their own arrangements in advance.
“Gone Too Soon, But Not Forgotten,” a memorial service in honor of Ashanti Carmon and friends, will be held on Saturday, May 11, from 12-3 p.m. at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C., 474 Ridge St. NW. For more information on Metropolitan Community Church, visit www.mccdc.com. For information on Empowering the Trans Community’s Burial Fund, email firstname.lastname@example.org.