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The National Black Justice Coalition Mourns Death of Novaa Ru Watson

CONTACT: Anna Zuccaro | 

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA — The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) mourns the loss of Novaa Ru Watson, a 23-year-old Black transgender man. Watson was shot and killed outside a dollar store in Lynchburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. The police do not have a suspect in custody and have found no evidence of a hate crime. However, police are looking into whether the killing stemmed from a domestic dispute. 

 According to family and friends, Watson identified as a man and used he/him pronouns. They also confirmed that he went by the name Novaa, as well as ‘EJ’ and ‘E.’ Police reports repeatedly deadnamed and misgendered Watson which can make solving the case harder. Loved ones described Watson as high-spirited, reliable, and a “beautiful spirit with an amazing heart.”

 “This incident of violence against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+/Same Gender Loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) community is not isolated. 2021 has already seen at least 30 transgender and gender non-conforming people violently killed. If this continues, we will see a record number of cases this year,” said Victoria Kirby York, Deputy Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “The loss of another young, trans person is extremely disheartening. We stand in solidarity with Novaa’s friends, family, and loved ones.”

 “NBJC urges local, state, and federal governments to take a stand to prevent transphobia and anti-trans violence. We also demand accountability on the part of local law enforcement to properly recognize the lives of transgender and gender non-binary victims. This includes the elimination of deadnaming, misgendering, or printing outdated photos. Amid Pride Month, we must recognize and address the brutal violence against the LGBTQ+/SGL community and demand justice for those who we have lost.”

 According to NBJC, Novaa Ru Watson is one of at least 30 transgender or non-binary people killed in 2021. The growing number of stolen lives this year is of extreme concern and displays the need for immediate action to end this epidemic of violence. 

 The Lynchburg Police Department asks that anyone with information about this incident to contact Det. Miller at (434) 455-6160 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 798-5900. Enter a tip online at or use the P3 app on a mobile device.

 Learn more about reducing gender-based violence here and here

To learn more about changing local laws and increasing protections for trans and non-binary community members, look here

The NBJC Stolen Lives list of trans and non-binary individuals lost to violence and hate can be found here.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.