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What Really Happened to LGBT+ Advocate Marsha P. Johnson?

Her body was found floating in the Hudson River

By True Crime WriterPublished 3 months ago 3 min read

Latin music played as gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals marched down Fifth Ave. in New York City, celebrating their freedom of sexuality. Some marched topless, some cheered and chanted; all were ecstatic they could freely be themselves.

Marsha P. Johnson was among the thousands attending the Gay Pride Parade in NYC on June 29, 1992. She danced, marched, and celebrated the accomplishments made for the LGBT+ community.

Photo: Grindr

Body of Marsha P. Johnson Found Floating in Hudson River

Five days later, she would be dead, her fully-clothed body found floating in the Hudson River.

Police ruled Marsha died from suicide.

Family, friends, LGBT+ activists, and community members disagreed with the ruling. They believed that Marsha, a strong swimmer, would not drown. They suspected someone had attacked her and thrown her body into the river.

Inspecting Marsha’s body, the family say they discovered a wound on the back of her head, further leading them to believe someone had attacked her. Official reports do not describe a head wound on Johnson’s body.

A Mark of Black Excellence

It is important to note that in 1992 when Ms. Johnson died, racial and anti-LGBT+ violence was at an all-time peak. Police often turned a blind eye to crimes involving these individuals.

Ms. Johnson stood for equality, diversity, Black pride, and all things “they” hated through participation in protests, demonstrations, and advocacy efforts.

Ms. Johnson, born Malcolm Michaels Jr. changed her name and came out as gay at age 17 name after leaving her home in New Jersey for New York City.

She performed at NYC drag bars and clubs and became a local favorite. People in the community trusted her to support them, to advise them, and to protect them.

Marsha openly spoke out about issues within the LGBT+ community while advocating for and demanding change. In 1969 Marsha marched during the Stonewall Riots, marking a turning point in the fight against transgender discrimination.

She founded STAR in the early 1970s, an organization dedicated to housing homeless LGBT+ children and teenagers, particularly in the African American community.

If those things werent enough to cause authorities to care less about Marsha’s death, she had also spoken out about the “dirty cops” infiltrating the NYPD, as well as many other issues against their political agenda.

A Demand for Justice

After cremating Johnson's body, her family spread her ashes over the Hudson River. A protest and march followed, where advocates demanded justice in the case.

Calls for an investigation into Marsha’s death echoed throughout the LGBT+ community. Advocates continued to argue that police handled Marsha's case inappropriately because she was Black and transgender.

The police did not investigate the case despite the calls to do so. They much preferred the public forget about Marsha P. Johnson and let the hysteria in the community die away.

Little did they know, no one could ever forget a Black woman as powerful and phenomenal as Marsha P. Johnson.

NYPD Reopens Case

In 2012, three decades after finding Marsha P. Johnson’s body floating in the Hudson River, the advocacy efforts for justice finally paid off. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) opened the case.

After re-examining the evidence and facts of the case, police acknowledged the possibility that Marsha had been murdered. They reclassified her death as “undetermined.”

What Do You Think Happened to Marsha P. Johnson?

The details surrounding Ms. Johnson's final days on Earth are unclear, although the details surrounding her death seem suspicious. Most people do not go for a swim fully clothed or experience head wounds while they are swimming.

Do you think Ms. Johnson, who celebrated life and her accomplishments a few days earlier, committed suicide or do you think someone attacked her and tossed her body in the river?

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About the Creator

True Crime Writer

The best of the worst true crime, history, strange and Unusual stories. Graphic material. Intended for a mature audience ONLY.

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Comments (1)

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  • Mariann Carroll3 months ago

    Great story to write about. It’s sad when authorities who have the power don’t try to find out the facts and just cover things up. 😔

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