Friends remember local activist killed in Boston stabbing


PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — A Boston man is facing murder charges after being accused of fatally stabbing two women, one of them a prominent transgender activist from Berkshire County.

“When it came to sharing the news from Berkshire Pride about Jahaira, there was actually a moment where I almost didn’t want to click the share button,” said Chair of Berkshire Pride Kelan O’Brien. 

The murder of trans activist Jahaira DeAlto still comes as a shock to O’Brien. 

“There was still part of me that thought she was going to message me and be like, ‘Hey, I don’t know what’s going on. This is not real. I’m fine,” O’Brien said.

DeAlto is identified as one of two women authorities said were killed by Marcus Chavus this past Sunday in Boston where DeAlto had recently moved to. The other victim was Chavus’ wife. 

DeAlto had reportedly taken in the couple and their children. 

“She described herself as a mother to anybody who needed one and I would imagine that was true in this case as well,” said DeAlto’s friend B Bradburd.

Chavus has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. 

“The county has seen, in a very short period of time, the deaths of two trans women from our community,” Bradburd said.

DeAlto was a community organizer. After the 2018 murder of another trans woman, Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, DeAlto led a tribute to her friend during a Transgender Day of Remembrance in Pittsfield.

“I would not also like to ignore that trans women keep dying and it is heartbreaking, and it is enraging, and it should not be happening,” Bradburd said.

There’s no immediate indication this was an anti-trans attack. 

“Like all that we have lost to gender-based violence, they are more than a statistic. And anybody who knew her knew that she would go on to change the world and she did,” O’Brien said.

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