EXCLUSIVE – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called out the Biden administration for honoring an activist on Transgender Day of Remembrance who was killed for allegedly firing upon law enforcement during a “Cop City” altercation earlier this year.
“Honoring someone who died shooting at and critically wounding a State Trooper is disgraceful and unbecoming of the Office of President,” Kemp said in an exclusive statement to Fox News Digital Thursday.
“Joe Biden’s support for Defund the Police activists makes law enforcement less safe and puts more American lives in danger. In Georgia, we will always back the blue, and violent offenders who seek the destruction of our communities will feel the full weight of the law,” he continued.
Nonbinary 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, otherwise known as “Tortuguita,” was killed during an alleged gunfight with police in Atlanta in January while showcasing opposition with others to the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.
On Jan. 18, Georgia State Patrol responded to the construction site to remove demonstrators against what critics call “Cop City,” a derisive term for the planned training center for police and firefighters. Authorities said Teran shot a trooper in the abdomen before law enforcement officials returned fire and killed Teran. Teran’s death prompted violent demonstrations in downtown Atlanta days later, and the activist’s family says Teran did nothing wrong to merit his killing by police.
The “Cop City” protests have been ongoing for years. Anti-law enforcement protesters and environmentalists have held riots at the location, with many turning violent, as officials have been forced to deploy tear gas to disperse crowds and thwart vandalism.
Ultimately, Georgia State Troopers were not charged in connection with Tortuguita’s death. Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Christian made the announcement back in October, calling the officials’ response “objectively reasonable.”
Despite the controversy surrounding Teran’s death, the White House still honored the activist during “Transgender Day of Remembrance” on November 20.
“This year, at least 46 transgender individuals in this country—and hundreds more around the world—were killed in horrifying acts of violence,” the White House statement read. “Each of these lives was precious. Each of them deserved freedom, justice, and joy. Today, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we mourn those we lost in the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans, as well as the countless other transgender people—disproportionately Black and brown transgender women and girls—who face brutal violence, discrimination, and harassment.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also honored the 26 killed, noting that those impacted are largely people of color.
“Today, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we grieve the 26 transgender Americans who were killed this year. Year after year, we see that these victims are disproportionately Black women and women of color,” she said.
The White House data stems from a Human Rights Campaign report that alleges an “epidemic of violence” has targeted the LGBTQ+ community.
The organization declared a “National State of Emergency” for LGBTQ+ individuals, citing what it calls “anti-LGBTQ+” legislation encompassing topics like gender-affirming healthcare for minors, transgender athletes competing in women’s sports, and transgender bathroom policies.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.