10-25-2020 Women to Watch - Flipbook - Page 36
tice and protect transgender sex workers and other
members of the trans community from violence and
“We are going to be here even when the hype goes
down. As a Black trans woman, I want to make sure
that we are visible,” Dammons said. “They didn’t
know who I was until I made them know who I am. I
have nothing to lose when it comes down to ghting
She particularly wants to increase employment
opportunities for the transgender community and
ensure they will be accepted in the workplace.
“It’s harder for the black trans woman to show
her strength,” Dammons said.
‘You’re going to
remember his name’
Kelly Davis was on the phone with her then-boyfriend, now-husband Keith Davis Jr., in 2015, when he
was shot in Northwest Baltimore by police who said
he had killed Kevin Jones, a Pimlico security guard.
Police and prosecutors offered no motive for the
killing, and the prosecution of Davis hinged on circumstantial evidence. But after three unsuccessful
prosecutions, a new jury convicted him of seconddegree murder last summer, and he was sentenced
to 50 years in prison.
Kelly Davis, an administrative assistant and billing specialist who lives in Glyndon, had been so private and reserved that many of her friends were surprised to learn she had a boyfriend at all. But when
she couldn’t get answers from city ofcials, she organized “Team Keith,” a vocal group that attended his
court hearings and protested the prosecutions outside State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s ofces.
By this summer, Davis was speaking passionately
from the back of a pickup truck to thousands who
gathered outside the Baltimore Convention Center
for a miles-long youth-led protest march that eventually shut down the Jones Falls Expressway.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own,” the
36-year-old said. “I decided to go public to get more
people behind me, make more noise and keep the
“If you didn’t, in this city, the next week, they just
kind of move on.”
Years of protesting can feel like yelling into a void
when it doesn’t produce the intended results, but it
hasn’t hardened Kelly Davis the way people might
think, she said.
“It makes you a realist,” she said. “He’s going to sit
for a while until things are made right.”
Keith and Kelly married at the Jessup Correctional Institution in 2017, and he is a father gure for her
teenage boys and pre-teen girls, she said. Until her
husband comes home, nothing will stop her from
making sure people know his story, she promises.
“If I do nothing else, you’re going to remember
his name,” she said. “You’re going to know who he is.”
WO M E N T O WAT C H
Kelly Davis leads a protest in March outside Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office. Her
husband, Keith Davis Jr., was sentenced to 50 years for murder after he was tried a fourth time.
PHOTO BY JERRY JACKSON
The oft-repeated protest chant “No justice, no
peace!” is her favorite for a reason.
“I believe I embody it,” Davis said. “If we get no
justice, you get no peace. If you are an elected ofcial, and you are part of anything that is wrong, if I
had it my way, you would not be able to freely move
around the city without people reminding you.”
‘Turn your pain into power’
Hundreds of mourners descended on Daphne
Alston’s house in Edgewood after her 22-year-old son,
Tariq, was killed at a party at the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Station in Harford County in July 2008.
“Tariq was so well loved,” his mother said. “We
didn’t go to bed for almost two days.”
The loss inspired Daphne Alston, a 61-year-old
optician manager, to co-found Mothers of Murdered
Sons and Daughters United with Mildred Samy,
whose son, Samuel Horne, was killed at age 25 the
The Baltimore-based organization began offering
group counseling at St. John Alpha & Omega Pentecostal Church for parents whose children are killed
in the region, Alston said. Together, they shared the
ways they were confronting their despair.
“We would just have talks,” she said. “We called
ourselves ‘The Fellowship.’ ... We shared our stories,
our pain, what we were going through every day that
a co-worker wouldn’t understand.”
Eventually, they realized all but one of them had
something in common: Their children’s killings remained unsolved. The group’s monthly counseling
sessions evolved into calls for answers.
“That pain speaks in ways nobody can understand,” Alston said. “Who is this person that took my
They met in 2014 with then-Baltimore Police
Commissioner Anthony Batts and ofcials from
the city State’s Attorney’s Ofce to ask for updates
and what they could do. They held peace walks and
cookouts in their loved ones’ memories. But fear of
retaliation and the deep divide between police and
the community often contribute to witnesses being
reluctant to testify in homicide cases, she said.
Alston feels overwhelmed and discouraged sometimes, especially by unending violence in Baltimore
and lack of answers. But something always keeps her
from giving up: her fellow MOMS members.
“As soon as I’m ready to throw in the towel, I’ll get
a couple of phone calls from a mother whose child
was murdered,” she said. “There’s still hurt people
who need somebody just to say, ‘Hey, look at me; I’m
A mother’s pain can’t bring her son back, Alston
said, but it can help other families process tragedies
of their own.
“Turn your pain into power, into something that’s
going to work for you,” she said. “If you sit back and
do nothing, it’s going to sit there and get worse. Never
let your child die in vain.”