By Chrisleen Herard
Special to the AFRO
A’nee Roberson was near Nellie’s Sports Bar on the early morning of Oct. 14 when she was attacked by an unknown assailant. Authorities say after the attack she ended up on a roadway, where she was fatally struck by a vehicle. D.C. authorities are now investigating whether gender identity played a part in the murder.
“I’m so proud of the life you lived and the impact you made on a lot of people,” Roberson’s friend, Renee Chantal, wrote in a Facebook post. “I got to watch you blossom into the beautiful flower you were, from a (child) always at my hip to the fun-loving brave and courageous woman you knew you were. I’m so mad they did this to you and I wish I was there to save you.”
On Oct. 14, at around 4:20 a.m., an individual flagged down officers from the Third Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in front of Nellie’s Sports Bar, a renowned LGBTQ+ bar that sits on the lively U Street Corridor in Northwest, D.C.
At the scene, police were advised that a woman had been hit by a car and she was taken to a nearby hospital to receive medical treatment for her injuries. The woman, however, was later pronounced dead and identified as 30-year-old A’nee Roberson, also known as A’nee Johnson, a Black trans woman.
“You lived, you laughed and you learned. You were a given light into so many people’s lives,” Fifi Olarinde, another friend of Roberson, wrote. “It’s unfortunate the events that occurred. But every moment leading up was a pure blessing, just knowing and becoming familiar with your essence.”
During the investigation, authorities found that the victim had seemingly run into the roadway after first being assaulted outside the bar. Officers later determined that the vehicle that struck Roberson, which remained on the scene, had no relation to the attack.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also revealed that Roberson had suffered from multiple blunt-force traumas and ruled the manner of death as homicide.
“No parent should ever have to bury their child. This tragedy was unexpected and has left her family reeling,” Iya Dammons, the founding executive director of D.C. Safe Haven, a support group for the LGBTQ+ community, wrote in a GoFundMe. “A’nee had a bright future ahead of her, and her loss is a stark reminder that hatred and bigotry are still very much alive.”
“We are calling on you to stand with us in solidarity against transphobia and violence,” Dammons wrote. “Let’s honor A’nee’s memory by working together to create a world where no one has to live in fear because of their gender identity.”
Data from the MPD shows that there have been 35 hate crimes regarding sexual orientation from the start of the year to Sept. 30 and, according to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been 21 transgender or gender non-conforming individuals that have lost their lives so far this year, Roberson being another to add to the list.
“A’nee was more than a statistic or a headline. She was a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a beacon of light in our community,” Dammons wrote. “Her life was cut short far too soon, and we are left grappling with the reality of her absence.”
While homicide detectives continue investigating Roberson’s murder in search of any potential suspects, the MPD is offering an award of up to $25,000 to the public for any information leading up to their arrest. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact authorities at 202-727-9099 or to send a message to their TEXT TIP LINE at 50411 for those who wish to remain anonymous.
A candlelit vigil will be held by the Safe Haven organization in honor of Roberson on Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. at 900 U St., N.W., the same location where Roberson was attacked.