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Looking Out: Killing of Baltimore transgender woman, sister of NBA player, makes international news

Law EnforcementReggie BullockBasketballNBAAnthony BattsBrendon Ayanbadejo

Yesterday, in the wake of the second murder of a transgender woman in Baltimore in the last two months, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts held a press conference to convey a commitment to solving the crime and improving police relations with the transgender community.

Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Reggie Bullock also started tweeting about 26-year-old Mia Henderson's death, saying she was his "brother," and the case -- which city police had clearly sought to shine a spotlight on -- became the subject of international news.

While a celebrity sibling should not make one transgender murder victim any more newsworthy than another -- such as 40-year-old Kandy Hall, killed in Baltimore last month -- the added attention could be a good thing, especially when it comes to finding Henderson's killer.

The Associated Press has written about it, with the wire story being posted to news sites across the country, as has ESPN and The Washington Post and The Huffington Post and The Daily Mail, not to mention the many TV and radio stations and bloggers across the country who have picked up the story.

On Thursday, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and outspoken LGBT advocate Brendon Ayanbadejo also commented on Henderson's killing on Twitter, writing, "This is why we fight. Its [sic] so much bigger than 'gays in sports', it really has nothing to do with that."

The well-known poor relations between Baltimore officers and members of the transgender community, and the fact that LGBT advocates are vocal and involved in pushing for justice in cases involving LGBT victims, would have made Henderson's case impossible to avoid altogether in the public sphere.

But, at least in theory, police hold press conferences about murder cases when they think the publicity might help shake loose information in the community.

Acting Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman who is gay and serves on the department's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advisory council, said the department is equally committed to solving all murders in the city, but takes a strategic approach to how it discusses them in public. While some cases are better worked from behind the scenes, others benefit from public outreach, he said.

Henderson's case is one of the latter, he said.

"The high-profile nature of it goes toward solving it," he said. "We need to make sure that the community understands that as a police department, we're going to do everything in our power to support them, listen to their concerns, meet with them, and at the same time ask for their assistance."

Like in the killing of Hall, few details have been released about Henderson's killing. Police hope more is revealed as members of the public tune in to the case, remember things they saw, or decide to report what they know to detectives.

For his part, Bullock, who is headed into his second season with the Clippers after being drafted last year, pledged his support for the LGBT community.

In one exchange, someone under the handle @Miss_Star87 wrote, "R.I.P Mia Henderson (Kevin Long) another transgender woman killed. We as the LGBT community must stand up for our sister Mia. #JUSTICE."

Bullock responded, "thanks a lot..y'all community have my biggest support."

Another user, @glampickman, responded, "sorry for your loss be brave and use your star power to help the gay and transgender people #nohate #gayrights #love."

Bullock responded, "no doubt I'm pushing and supporting that community for life just because any person should be able to live there [sic] own life."

Bullock could not immediately be reached for comment.

In other LGBT-related news this week: 

- Michael Sam, the first openly gay athlete drafted into the NFL, accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs on Wednesday night. Check out his speech here.

- Government data released Tuesday found 2.3 percent of American men and women identified as gay or bisexual.

- Don't forget: Next Wednesday, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore is hosting a town hall meeting to hear what you have to say about how Pride went this summer.

Do you plan to attend? To say what?

Also, what do you think the high level of publicity surrounding Henderson's death will mean in terms of solving the case?

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Law EnforcementReggie BullockBasketballNBAAnthony BattsBrendon Ayanbadejo
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