Family of black gay man killed in Louisiana says police didn't tell them of his death

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The family of McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln is demanding better communication from the police investigating his death.

A black gay man was found dead in Louisiana last week and the victim's family is demanding a thorough investigation into his killing after they claim they were forced to learn of his death from neighbors.

McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln, 29, was found dead from a gunshot wound at the intersection of Louisiana and Day streets in Alexandria, Louisiana, last week. His family filed a missing person report 24 hours after he first left his family home and hours later, on May 15, police finally found him.

According to the National Black Justice Coalition, the civil rights group helping the family bring attention to Lincoln's murder, the family allegedly learned of his death when neighbors called the household after seeing news reports that the body police had discovered might be their son.

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The family has had little "proactive" communication from the department since then, the National Black Justice Coalition claimed.

David Johns, the group's executive director, said it was his understanding that the first communication between the police and the family was when they contacted the Lincoln's sister to ask her about information in his cell phone.

"That was not a conversation about his death or any of the information you'd expect to be relayed given the circumstance," Johns said. 

McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln
McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln NBJC

On Wednesday, detectives also visited the home of his mother, Pamela Lincoln. She was not there at the time.

"McKinsley is an openly gay man and was the target of harassment and discrimination," she said in a statement later. "The police have a responsibility to ensure justice for the people of this parish. They have not done enough to fulfill their oath. They haven't protected and served us."

As of this week, the family said they had not yet received a copy of Lincoln's autopsy report. They added that part of the victim's body had allegedly been left where he was found by police.

According to Johns, Lincoln's family claimed specifically that "parts of his brain" were allegedly "left behind."

They added that community members were planning a "candlelight vigil where they remain tomorrow."

Lincoln's family said they also had a voice recording they believe will be valuable to police, but that police have not yet pursued that avenue, to their knowledge.

"The family wants a complete and thorough investigation and they're hoping the police department will talk to everyone and anyone who is possibly connected," Johns said. "The voice recording is at least a piece of the puzzle ... they are really hoping the police department does its job in earnest."

Local officials and attorneys have taken steps to make it clear to police that the investigation should be a priority.

According to the National Black Justice Coalition, Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall said that the police department had agreed to work hard to determine the circumstances surrounding Lincoln's murder and determine whether it was a hate crime.

The coalition itself has contacted lawyers to ensure a full investigation is carried out.

Louisiana Rep. Edward C. James, who is also an attorney, said he had "been assured that this murder will be given the police department and the local leadership’s full attention."

A spokesperson from the Alexandria Police Department responded to a request for comment this week, saying that a "criminal investigation into the unfortunate death of Mr. Lincoln is being conducted."

"All aspects of any criminality are being considered to include the possibility of hate crime involvement," the department stated. "So as to not jeopardize the integrity of the investigation, no information regarding any potential suspects or persons of interest will be released at this time."

Lincoln's death comes weeks after the killing of Nina Pop, a black transgender woman. Pop was found in her Sikeston, Missouri, apartment on May 3. According to police, she had been stabbed multiple times.

Last week, police arrested and charged a man with second-degree murder in relation to her death. They have not yet disclosed a motive.

There have been at least 11 killings of transgender or gender nonconforming people in 2020, many of them people of color. Last year, at least 26 transgender and gender nonconforming people were murdered.

"I think the broader concern is that, in this particular parish, much like other places in the country but especially in the south where black LGBTQ people live, they are not communities where members of our community are made to feel safe or affirmed," Johns said this week, referring to Lincoln's death.

According to last year's FBI Hate Crime Statistics Report, the number of hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ community in 2018 rose by nearly 6% from 2017.

In 2018, there were 726 anti-gay male incidents, 142 anti-transgender incidents, 129 anti-lesbian incidents, and 21 anti-bisexual incidents. Hate crimes against gay men increased by nearly 7% from the year prior, and hate crimes against transgender people increased 34%.

Black people were still the most frequently targeted group for hate crimes in 2018: Forty-six percent of hate crimes that were race, ethnicity, or ancestry-related targeted black people.

Johns said that although there isn't proper data collection for the murders of black LGBTQ people, he believed that they were rising.

"We don't have the data capabilities that would make it possible for us to know what that really looks like for black queer people but we know anecdotally that the answer is, yes [...]," he said.

Johns said there were still steps both government officials and individuals could take to help address violence against LGBTQ black people.

His organization, for instance, advocates for anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people at the federal level, including supporting the Equality Act, state anti-discrimination protections, cultural competency initiatives, and better data collection on LGBTQ people of color, specifically on their killings.

"We advocate for the data capability to collect intersectional data that would disaggregate different types of experiences for black people but also account for intersections with sexual identity and gender orientation and expression as well as disability status," Johns said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.