SAD NEWS: Layleen Polanco was arrested on April 16 for allegedly assaulting a taxi driver and being in possession of a controlled substance in Harlem. She was found unresponsive in her cell on Friday (June 7) by an officer conducting a tour of the Rose M. Singer Centre – the part of the prison on Rikers Island that houses female inmates.
Prison officers performed CPR until medical staff arrived around 10 minutes later as medics then spent an hour trying to revive her before pronouncing her dead.
In a statement, her family said,
“We are heartbroken over the death of our beloved Layleen, whose bright light was an inspiration to all who knew her.
The family demands answers and we are entitled to them.”
Polanco is the 10th trans woman to be found dead in the US this year. Her death comes just days after it was announced that a statue will commemorate Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Riveira, two trans activists, in NYC.
Polanco was a member of the House of Xtravanganza, which was founded in 1982. It became world-famous after the documentary Paris is Burning came out in 1991.
Janet Mock, of Pose said,
“Heartbroken and enraged from the harsh reality that Layleen Polanco, who was incarcerated on Rikers Island.”
Folks are gathering Monday in NYC and collecting donations to help lay her to rest. We need to check and challenge anyone seeking to police our bodies, genders, and identities. Rest in power, Layleen.”
Indya Moore, who stars in Pose, said on Twitter,
“I grew up looking to Layleen as my goal. She was one of the most beautiful women I ever seen who was trans. She and so many other girls were an example to me. She was a member of my house, Xtravaganza. She died in her cell in Rikers. 10th trans woman.”
Last night we marched for #LayleenPolanco and all our Black & Latinx LGBTQ+ and GNC family.— No New Jails NYC (@nonewjails_nyc) June 9, 2019
None of them should be in NYC jails. Not one more should die in a cell.
We must #CloseRikersNOW with #NoNewJails and use the $11b to keep our people at home, alive, loving, and thriving. pic.twitter.com/IUyRwkBNWb
(Photo, Facebook; via Pink News)