Vigil Held for Murdered Guyanese Sex Workers

On July 27th, in Georgetown, Guyanese sex workers clashed with police as they gathered for a wake for two transgender sex workers who had been murdered the week before.

The clash began when a group of police officers ordered the mourners to stop blocking the streets and allegedly made derogatory remarks to the gathered sex workers. Miriam Edwards, Executive Director of NSWP member group the Guyana Sex Worker Coalition, claimed that she was threatened by a police officer cranking his gun at her. The group said that the gathering at St. George’s Cathedral had been peaceful until the police arrived and started behaving “arrogantly.” The group sang songs and exchanged words with police officers, questioning why they need police permission to hold a vigil. 

The two sex workers, Jason (Jada) Samuels and Carl (Tyra) Sinclair, were stabbed to death on the Georgetown streets on July 20th. The perpetrator set himself on fire then died from his injuries.

In a letter to the Stabroek News, a reader writes that numerous eyewitnesses report that private security officers (from the firm MMC) picked up the confessed murderer after he threw gasoline on several sex workers in an attempt to set them on fire, then took him away from the scene to another location where he then murdered Jada and Tyra.

The letter continues: “Private security forces are widespread in Guyana; as a matter of fact, in some communities, these private companies have more of a presence than the police. However, unless I’m wrong, is the Guyana Police Force not still the body to which all crimes have to be reported? Why then, did the security officers not take the (now deceased) murderer immediately to the Brickdam Police Station? It was clearly stated to them that this individual had attacked several people on the streets of Georgetown. So I repeat, why did the MMC officers not take this obviously violent and dangerous individual directly to the Brickdam Police Station?

“Does the mandate of these private security companies allow them to overrule the basic law enforcement mechanisms of Guyana? Or, was the inaction because the individuals getting attacked were transgender and/or sex workers?

“All citizens of Guyana, including transgender persons and those engaged in sex work have the right to safety and security. “

On July 31st, scores of mourners arrived at the Sandy’s Funeral Home in Georgetown on Thursday midday to bid farewell to Tyra. People came to pay their respects dressed in black and red dresses with matching heels, colours that were chosen to protest the murder, and many also carried special pins on their outfits that called for more tolerance for members of the LGBT Community.

Jada is expected to be laid to rest on Monday the 4th.