Minnesota Steps Up To Protect Missing Black Women!
FEATURED PHOTO: MINNESOTA DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE RUTH RICHARDSON
TheRoot.com, By Jessica Washington, Posted March 7th 2023
Every year tens of thousands of women and girls are reported missing. But the stories of Black women and girls are often left out of the headlines.
In the United States, Black women account for just 13 percent of the population but 35 percent of all missing women. Yet, studies have found that Black people who go missing receive the least media attention of any group.
In Minnesota, lawmakers battling against an epidemic of violence and mistreatment of Black women are stepping up to do something about it.
On Monday, the Minnesota House passed a bill to create the Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls. The office would be the first of its kind in the nation.
The push for the bill, spearheaded by State Representative Ruth Richardson and Lakeisha Lee, came after dire news from the state’s Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force.
The report found that although only 7 percent of Minnesota’s population is Black, 40 percent of domestic homicide victims were Black.
Lee, who co-chairs the Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force, knows firsthand why these measures matter.
In 2013, her younger sister Brittany Clardy went missing. “When we reached out to officers, they said a lot of 18-year-olds do this, and she’s probably with her boyfriend,” Lee told MPR News.
Days later, her sister was found dead in her car. That moment forever changed Lee.
“This is part of my purpose, my true purpose,” Lee told MPR News.
If it passes the Senate, the new bill will spend roughly 2.5 million over the next two years to help save Black women in the state.
According to the Minnesota Reformer, roughly $300,000 every year would go to community-based organizations, and $948,000 would go to establish the Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls. An additional 50,000 would go towards raising awareness of the office.
The office would work to collect data, coordinate research, review cold cases of missing and murdered Black women and girls, and push for new legislation to address violence against Black women and girls.
The bill would also mandate that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension operate a missing person alert system.
There’s no guarantee that the bill will pass. Republicans in the state Senate have previously vetoed similar legislation. But with the state Senate now controlled by Democrats, there’s a chance that this initiative could see the light of day.