Minnesota Bill Addresses Disparities in Missing, Murdered African American Women

Black women are worthy of protection too.

Last month, Minnesota’s House of Representatives passed a bill to create the Office of Missing and Murdered African American Women to address missing cases of Black women and girls across the nation.

According to The 19th, the legislation was created following the findings of a 12-member task force, created by Democratic state Rep. Ruth Richardson, which found 40% of the 7% population of Black women are victims of domestic violence, one of the contributing factors to missing persons cases.

“I think that the blueprints that we have, including the report with the recommendations, and with this office as well, it gives us the opportunity to encourage other states to act and also the nation,” Richardson said.

The task force also found that Back women are three times more likely to be murdered compared to White women in Minnesota, moving Richardson to introduce the task force in 2019.

“What has occurred in Minnesota is historic,” said Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation.

“I think that [Richardson] has laid out the blueprint that other states across this country can adopt to protect our Black women and our Black girls, because they are not protected. The resources are not allocated in the same manner,” Wilson said.

The office will use a $1.24 million annual allocation to assist with cases and provide grants to community organizations working to prevent issues such as domestic violence and human trafficking. The office will also engage in public awareness campaigns, operate a missing persons alert system, and provide further recommendations.

Experts reported that cases for missing Black girls remained open longer than those involving whites or Hispanics.

“You have to see that law enforcement doesn’t really view our community the same,” Wilson said. “It appears that white women and girls are always viewed as the victims. And there’s this perception that when it’s a Black woman or a Black girl, they’re promiscuous or they’re fast, and that is so far from the truth.”

“We’re not asking to get something more than any other community,” Richardson said. “We’re asking for the same attention. We’re asking for the same coverage.”

If the bill passes the Senate and receives the governor’s signature, the office will reportedly be the first of its kind focused on Black women in the nation.