Transgender Activists Rally For More Understanding, Accountability

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Joann McFadden cries while speaking about the memory of her child Kenne McFadden at a rally at Crockett Park to protest a ruling made in McFadden's case.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Joann McFadden cries while speaking about the memory of her child Kenne McFadden at a rally at Crockett Park to protest a ruling made in McFadden's case.

Around 70 transgender activists and allies gathered at Crockett Park Tuesday evening to protest a ruling delivered in the case of Kenne McFadden, a 26-year-old transgender woman who died last year in the San Antonio River downtown.

Mark Daniel Lewis will not face a full criminal trial after he admitted to pushing McFadden into the river where she eventually drowned, according to the Bexar County District Attorney's Office. State District Judge Joey Contreras ruled on Thursday, March 8, that the act did not violate his probation.

"We’re hoping that we’ll see an openness and willingness from our elected officials, from our [district attorney’s] offices, from judges to learn about the transgender community [and] the violence that faces us far too often," Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, told The Rivard Report.

Prosecutors sought to show that Lewis violated his probation by committing manslaughter.

"Our prosecutors presented compelling evidence that we believed showed that Mark Daniel Lewis was guilty of manslaughter," Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood's office stated in a text message to the Rivard Report Tuesday afternoon. "Due to the lower standard of proof in a Motion to Revoke Probation hearing, our office is legally unable to proceed with a full criminal trial against Mark Daniel Lewis."

Daniel Rodriguez, Lewis' court-appointed attorney, argued that Lewis acted in reasonable self-defense when he pushed McFadden after she allegedly grabbed his buttocks.

"The consequences of that push were unforseen," Rodriguez said.

Contreras' ruling means Lewis may not be tried for the alleged crime again because of double jeopardy.

In addition to asking elected officials be more aware of the challenges and threats transgender San Antonians face, speakers called for the public to hold the elected officials responsible for the outcome accountable.

"In November, when Joey Contreras is up for election, we can vote him out," said Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe, a transgender woman and campaign manager for Monica Ramirez Alcantara, the recently elected chairwoman of the Bexar County Democratic Party.

"If he survives his primary," she added.

Contreras entered into a May 22 runoff election with 24 percent of the primary vote, less than that of his Republican challenger Karl Alexander, who claimed 32 percent of the vote. Lahood lost his primary election to Democratic challenger Joe Gonzales, who now faces Republican candidate Tylden Shaeffer in the November general election.

Before beginning a march down North Main Avenue, McFadden's mother, Joann McFadden, wept while delivering an impassioned cry for compassion.

"Parents, love your children," McFadden said. "Its time for parents to accept their children for who they are."

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