NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Community members gathered last night for a candlelight vigil behind the chapel on the Douglass campus of Rutgers to remember a young woman whose brutal murder on Baldwin Street has shaken the city.
Eryicka Morgan, 26, was stabbed to death following an argument with a fellow housemate. As we reported last week, Devonte Scott was arrested and charged with the murder the next morning.
Morgan, who grew up in Newark and took classes at Rutgers University, identified as a transgender woman. She was an activist for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.
Many of Morgan’s closest friends, classmates, and supporters grieved her passing, and spoke out against injustices that the LGBTQ community faces on an daily basis.
Jordan Pollak, a transgender male student activist at Rutgers, spoke openly about the heinous nature of the crime, and about the concerns he has for people who identify as LGBTQ, including astronomical suicide rates and increased frequency of violence.
Pollak said that the murder of a fellow transgender student in New Brunswick made him feel unsafe.
“In my community, from what I’ve seen, I don’t feel like a civilian any more,” he said.
Morgan was a member of LLEGO, a LGBTQ advocacy group on the Rutgers campus.
Dan Munoz currently serves as the community outreach chair for LLEGO. He said the organization’s name is derived from a Spanish expression, which translates roughtly to, “I come as who I am.”
Munoz noted that even though there is currently no proof of motive behind the crime, there is reason to be suspicious that it could have been influenced by bigotry.
Munoz said that the entire community has been affected, even for those who did not know Morgan personally, “Losing someone will hit home… They’ve known others who have died.”
Pollak cited an unnerving statistic: He said that 50% of people who identify as transgender will attempt suicide before the age of 20, a statistic nothing short of unnerving.
“So many people don’t make it.”
While Pollak and others continue to grieve for the loss of Morgan, community members said they were reassured to see so many people in attend last night’s vigil.
“Just being an ally to the community means so much,” said Pollak. “Not just during tragic times, but all the time.”
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.