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MN Tackles Huge Disparity in Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, Other States Follow Suit

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According to the most recent research, black women and girls make up only seven percent of the U.S. population, yet, in 2022, they accounted for 18 percent of all missing persons cases. One state is now tackling this issue head-on. 

In 2021, Minnesota launched a task force to investigate the state's disproportionately high number of missing and murdered black women and girls. The results uncovered a disturbing trend of violence, and a failure by state and local authorities to respond.

"As a nation and state we are facing a crisis and it is critical and long overdue that we have investment in disrupting this crisis," said former state Rep. Ruth Richardson, who was behind the formation of the task force.

The following year, Richardson used the group's findings to introduce legislation creating the first-ever Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls.

"This office is not about asking for more attention, it's about getting the same attention. And it's about having our lives honored in the same ways. We matter and we deserve the same energy and coverage in our cases," Richardson said.

"It's an unfortunate thing that there's an office, we have an office that is dedicating thousands of dollars to a specific demographic. It's really sad that we have had to do this," said Lakeisha Lee, one of the co-chairs of the task force.

For Lee, it's personal. Over a decade ago, her 18-year-old sister Brittany Clardy went missing. Lee says police brushed off the family at first. Then, two weeks later, they found Clardy's murdered body in the trunk of her car. 

"A lot of the work that I do is because of my sister's spirit. It's unfortunate that she's not here to witness this work, but her spirit is what keeps me going; and to know that others are looking to save and also solve some of the trauma that has occurred through history is amazing," Lee told CBN News.

Minnesota's action is spurring others, with both Illinois and Wisconsin implementing task forces of their own. 

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) of New Jersey says the issue deserves national attention. 

"We need to put our resources, put our energies, put our intellect, and put our commitment into ensuring that our communities are safe for everyone," Watson Coleman said.

She says there needs to be a central location where information coming from states can be accessed. 

"I think that on the federal level, we can get resources that did a couple of things, that became the central repository of information, empowered and even funded grants and programs in local communities that were designed to inform and to educate, and to be vigilant, even support law enforcement," Watson Coleman told CBN News. 

Back in Minnesota, the goal is that the Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls would eventually become obsolete. 

"I hope one day the office will sunset because we'll be able to solve this, we'll be able to dedicate these resources, and make it part of what's normal in hopes are that all of us are looking at this office in the hopes that when black women and girls are safe, all of us are safe," Lee said.

Now that the bill creating the office has passed both the state House and Senate, Minnesota's Department of Public Safety tells CBN News it's in the early stages of launching. The first step will be finding someone to lead it.

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT