Activists seek to change state law after Dallas transgender woman's assault

Dallas police say they anticipate making more arrests for the mob-style attack on a transgender woman.

The FBI is investigating whether the attack on Muhlaysia Booker is a hate crime. Any hate crime prosecution would be under federal law because there is a gap in protection at the state level.

Authorities are still actively working the case and said to be still trying to identify suspects involved in the beating. They’re asking for the public’s help as well, and they can remain anonymous.

Some are hoping this violent video will bring about change in the form of protections for transgender people.

Video from the Dallas County Jail shows Edward Thomas, 29, being booked Monday on a charge of aggravated assault for the mob-style beating of Muhlaysia Booker, 22.

A witness who posted the video of the parking lot assault asked FOX4 not to show it out of concern for the victim, but still images from the video give an idea of the brutality.

Thomas can be seen repeatedly punching Booker as a growing crowd watched. At least two others joined in kicking her. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Booker told police others in the crowd made homophobic slurs before she was knocked unconscious and pulled away from the mob.

Police and now the FBI are trying to determine if the assault should be classified as a hate crime.

Rafael McDonnell with the Resource Center oversees services for thousands of members of the LGBTQ community. He told state lawmakers on Monday that the video of Booker’s beating shows why state law needs to be changed.

“I think it’s important that we change the law in the state so the hate crimes bill can be inclusive of the trans community,” he said.

Texas House Bill 1513 would add hate crime protections for transgender people at the state level.

“It’s a disturbing video that has touched folks,” McDonnell said. “The fact that lawmakers are able to see that this is a trans woman, particularly a trans woman of color, that has been beaten in a horrible manner. Some of them are starting to think well maybe we do need to change the law.”

Family members say Booker has a broken wrist, swollen face, a concussion and is still in a lot of pain.

McDonnell is hoping police will be able to arrest everyone involved.       

“There are clearly more that need to be arrested. I think it’s appropriate that they brought in the FBI to look at this it in terms of federal hate crime charges,” he said. “The Justice Department has continued to prosecute under the federal hate crime statutes, which are LGBTQ inclusive, even if the state one isn’t.”

House Bill 1513 hasn’t been heard by a committee yet.