While Flagstaff pushes back the case against Epona Rose, activists gather demanding her freedom.

Locals are calling on assault charges against Rose to be dropped, claiming she was defending herself from attackers.

While Flagstaff pushes back the case against Epona Rose, activists gather demanding her freedom.

A group of almost 50 people gathered inside of the Coconino County Courthouse in Flagstaff last Monday in support of Epona Rose, the woman who was arrested in August for allegedly defending herself against a group of people in Flagstaff this past summer. 

The group of local queer activists, residents and community members marched through the city and called for Rose’s charges to be dropped, and later filled the inside of the courthouse lobby before getting news that Rose’s case was being pushed to a different date. 

Rose, who identifies as a woman of trans experience, has been out on bail for almost three months since local police arrested her and charged her with attempted manslaughter, and multiple counts of assault. She was originally held on $100,000 bail, but that was eventually reduced to $10,000 and the attempted manslaughter charge was dropped. 

The police report obtained by LOOKOUT said that on August 11, Rose attacked a group of men unprovoked, macing one of the men and putting a knife to the throat of another. But Rose has made multiple statements to the contrary saying she defended herself against a transphobic attack.

Rose said she was attacked “by a group of three men while two or more watched. The men were drunk and sexually harassing her,” according to a statement from activists who worked to free Rose from the Coconino County Detention Facility. “The attack escalated into threats of rape, and then to physical violence, when they realized that Epona is transgender.”

None of the men Rose described as assaulting her have been charged with a crime, and the arresting affidavit from the police report showed the police never questioned the men on Rose’s allegations that they assaulted her. 

Outside the courthouse, Rose spoke to the group, calling herself a “political prisoner” and said that the men she’s accused of assaulting “got away with molesting me and touching my genitalia, and they were mad with the kind of woman I am.”

LOOKOUT previously reported that the police continually misgendered Rose both in their report and in person, and that she was held in isolation at the county jail and strip-searched by a male corrections officer despite two official state ID’s classifying her as female. 

LOOKOUT learned that the City of Flagstaff is expecting to offer Rose a plea deal, but it’s unclear what the deal will be, or if Rose will take it. Epona’s lawyer, Ryan Stevens, could not be reached for comment before publication. At the end of October, Steven’s said there hadn’t been any major updates but he was working with the city to find a resolution. He did not respond to questions regarding if a plea deal was in the works. 

Since August, the City of Flagstaff has not returned emails and calls nor provided a statement on Rose’s case, or how the city provides training to police on handling LGBTQ+ issues. However, the Human Rights Campaign gave the city perfect score in their Equality Index for having an LGBTQ+ liaison inside the police force. It’s unclear what the liaison‘s activities or job description is.

While her court dates continue to get pushed back, Rose said she has been living in legal limbo in Flagstaff—where she is not from—and is without permanent or sustainable housing. 

“I'm currently located at a house that some friends opened up to me, but that lease is over with soon, and then I have to figure out what I have to do next,” Rose said, adding that she can’t leave Flagstaff until her case is over. “So along with navigating for my rights and trans people’s rights, I have to just navigate my day-to-day.”

Rose’s next court date is December 20th at 10:30 a.m.

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