Nizah Morris. By this point you should know that name. After all, PGN has been investigating her mysterious death going on 15 years now.
A brief recap: Morris was a trans woman of color who was given a courtesy ride by the Philadelphia police. Shortly after, she was found brain dead in Center City. She died two days later, and was declared a homicide victim on Dec. 25, 2002.
Our reporter Tim Cwiek has covered that story and every twist — from city departments to state agencies to police headquarters and beyond. PGN has taken multiple government agencies to court to attempt to get all city records on this incident.
Cwiek’s investigative efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2015, the Society of Professional Journalists awarded his work with the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Journalism, honoring him at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in a category alongside the Wall Street Journal.
The reason this is important now is that one of those public officials who has thwarted our efforts is the recently indicted Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. Williams announced earlier this year he was not running for re-election, but the editorial team here at PGN had already decided that, if he had, we would not be endorsing him.
There has been a rash of trans violence since the beginning of this year. Violent death is still something our trans community must constantly be worried about. When there’s an unsolved homicide still out there with unanswered questions and a district attorney who can possibly bring closure, there’s something the community should do: Take action.
There’s a really simple way to do that. Tell all the candidates vying for that role that, if they are elected, the community expects them to release all records relating to the Morris homicide.
It’s too late for Nizah Morris, but her family is still here. They deserve answers.