Toyin Salau, Rem'mie Fells, Riah Milton: Every Black Person Murdered is More Than a Hashtag

black trans women murdered

In the last week or two alone, there have been at least six black people killed.

This is on top of the 11 black people who were killed in protests last week.

As more and more black Americans are killed, their names and stories become drowned out. Their entire entities are reduced to a hashtag that only trends until the next person is killed. At this rate, that’s about a day or two.

As protests for racial justice continue across the country, we’d like to take a breath to honor the most recent men and women whose lives were so unfairly taken from them.

Oluwatoyin ‘Toyin’ Salau

Oluwatoyin toyin Salau

19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist Oluwatoyin Salau went missing on June 6 after tweeting about her sexual assault. A week later, she was found dead in Tallahassee.

Before her death, Oluwatoyin, who often went by Toyin, described her assault in detail in a Twitter thread and said that she was molested by a man who “disguised himself as a man of God.” This was the second time she had been sexually assaulted this year.

According to her friend Danaya Hemphill, Toyin had been staying with her because her own home was unsafe. Danaya wrote on Twitter,

“[Her family] sat back while she was being sexually assaulted and didn’t do anything. Her own brother victimized her. Her mother kicked her out. WHO KICKS THEIR OWN CHILD OUT. TOYIN JUST GRADUATED HS. SHE WAS STILL A BABY.”

Oluwatoyin toyin Salau
Toyin at a protest for Tony McDade

Before her murder, Toyin had been participating in Black Lives Matter protests in Tallahassee and even spoke out for justice for Tony McDade, a black transman who was killed by the police. According to a video posted to Twitter, she spoke to a local reporter and said,

“Tony McDade was a black trans man. We’re doing this for every black person, because at the end of the day, I cannot take my fucking skin color off…Wherever the fuck I go, I’m profiled…I’mma die about my fucking skin…my blackness is not for your fucking consumption.”

Danaya called Toyin “very passionate” and added,

“She was very vocal, she was very loving, very spiritual, very caring. Toyin she was like a light in a dark room.”

Another of Toyin’s friends, Chynna Carney, said,

“She was out there every day, protesting for everybody, caring about everybody else but herself. She always was like that.”

One of Toyin’s high school friends, Allyson Sancho, added,

“She cared so deeply about every person, and you knew it was genuine, she wasn’t just saying it to make you feel better. She really believed in you and everything she was fighting for.”

Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells

Dominique rem'mie fells

27-year-old Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a black transwoman, was found violently murdered in a river in Philadelphia on June 9.

Dominique, who often went by Rem’mie, died of multiple stab wounds. Her legs were found severed.

According to Rem’mie’s friend Madelyn Morrison, she loved fashion music, people, having fun, and “being vibrant”.

She also helped organize “Rock the Runway — A trans Empowerment Fashion Show” last year, where she showed off some of her own creations. Madelyn said,

“She always showed us these pieces of hers that were so brilliant, so creative.”

Another friend of Rem’mie’s, Kendall Stephens, said that she was a social butterfly and “lived her truth so loud that you could hear her a mile away.”

According to Kendall, Remimie was planning on going back to school for fashion design.

Rem’mie’s sister Dior Edmonds has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for her funeral. She wrote that her sister “was truly one of a kind.”

Riah Milton

riah milton

25-year-old black transwoman Riah Milton was shot and killed during an attempted robbery on June 9 in Cincinnati.

Riah’s sister Ariel Mary Ann has worked hard to keep Riah’s memory alive, especially as the news continues to misgender and dead-name Riah. On Twitter, she posted a note and said,

“Seeing the news completely dead-name and misgender my sister was like seeing someone just wipe her existence learn away.”

She added,

“Like Riah, I am a black trans woman as well and to be dead-named by people who know that you go by a different name and pronouns is.. a slap in the face. It says that you don’t care about the humanity and respect that transgender people deserve.”

She also thanked everyone who had reached out to her and donated to Riah’s GoFundMe page and said,

“I am truly blessed to have so many people share and make Riah’s voice heard.”

Ariel remembers Riah as “a joyful person.” She said,

“She loved her family and she loved her friends. She was just a joy to be around.”

Riah’s birth mother, Tracey Milton, who didn’t enter her life until she was 18, said that Riah loved traveling and being outside. She also described her as “outgoing, helpful, and someone who always put her family first.” Tracey added,

“She just wanted to be accepted for who she was.”

Rayshard Brooks

rayshard brooks

27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was killed by the police while sleeping in his car at a Wendy’s in Atlanta. After the officers attempted to arrest him for failing a blood alcohol test, a struggle ensued. As Rayshard was running away, the police officer shot and killed him.

The officer has since been fired but has not been charged with murder, despite protesters pleas for justice.

Rayshard’s wife, Tomika Miller, told CBS News,

“It was murder… I want them to go to jail. I want them to deal with the same things as if it was my husband who killed somebody else. If it was my husband who shot them, he would be in jail. He would be doing a life sentence.”

Rayshard Brooks
Rayshard with his wife and daughters

Rayshard was a father to three daughters, Blessing (8), Memory (2), and Dream (1), and a stepfather to 13-year-old Mekai.

According to his niece Chassidy Evans,

“Not only was he a girl dad, he was a loving husband, caring brother and most importantly, to me, an uncle I could depend on. Rayshard Brooks was silly, had the brightest smile and the biggest heart, and loved to dance since we were kids.”

Rayshard’s cousin Gymaco Brooks remembered him as “always happy, always smiling.”

Rayshard worked numerous jobs, including carpentry and flooring. One of his former bosses, Ambrea Mikolajczyk, the co-owner of Ark Restoration, said he was one of the hardest working employees they ever had and called him “an amazing individual” who was funny, dedicated, and always in good spirits.

Robert Fuller

robert fuller

Robert Fuller was only 24 years old when he was found hanging from a tree across from Palmdale City Hall in the early hours of June 10.

Although L.A. County initially claimed the lynching was a “suicide,” demands for justice prompted elected officials to agree to look further into Robert’s death.

Robert’s sister Diamond Alexander told the L.A. Times,

“We want to find out the truth on what really happened. Everything they told us is not right. We just want the truth. My brother was not suicidal. He was a survivor.”

robert fuller
Robert with his sister Angel

On Facebook, Diamond urged anyone with information to come forward, writing,

“Today we just got word that Robert’s body was found hanging in a tree out in Palmdale. It’s still under investigation. If anyone has seen anything please come forward. Brother, you will forever be in our heart.”

Robert’s youngest sister Angel Magee set up a GoFundMe for his funeral and wrote,

“Words can’t describe how my family is feeling. We grew up there in the Antelope Valley, we have so many friends, families that loved Robert.”

The county is currently conducting a more thorough autopsy and investigation.

Malcolm Harsch

malcolm harsch

A little over a week before Robert Fuller’s death, 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch was found hanging from a tree in Victorville outside of the city library. Officials again tried to claim that Malcolm’s death was a suicide, but Malcolm’s family do not believe that is true. In a statement, his family said,

“There are many ways to die but considering the current racial tension, a black man hanging himself from a tree definitely doesn’t sit well with us right now. We want justice not comfortable excuses.”

Malcolm’s sister Harmonie Alexander described her brother as very loving, “not only to his family but even strangers.”

She added that he loved creating tattoos (he was a tattoo artist) and “was very artistic.”

Malcolm was the father of eight children. According to Malcolm’s best friend, Henry Bennett, “all he talked about was his kids.”

In the statement released by his family, they said that, just a few days earlier, he was talking to his kids about seeing them soon.

Officials claim that there was no foul play but have not provided an explanation for the blood that was found on his shirt.


At Least 11 Black People Killed in the Last Week of Protests

Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.