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Minnesota has just launched the Task Force on Missing and Murdered African American Women, which will look at the systemic causes behind violence toward Black women and ways to end it.
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The legislation was tucked in a Public Safety and Judiciary Omnibus Bill that passed this summer. Rep. Ruth Richardson is the chief author of the bill which called for the task force. She says it will be the first of its kind in the country.
“It’s not just about one thing or one system,” she said. “There’s a lot that needs to be done in order to ensure that we have not only more equitable coverage, but also to address the fact that when Black women and girls go missing their cases are open four times longer.”
According to information from the National Crime Information Center, 90,333 Black women and girls were missing in 2020. The number amounts to nearly 34% of all missing females in the country in 2020, far higher than the percent that Black females make up of the entire female population.
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Richardson says there are many reasons for the disparity, including law enforcement response, media coverage, and the Black community’s distrust of certain systems. She points to Black children sometimes being labeled as runaways when they are reported missing.
The new task force will work similarly to the panel set up to focus on missing Indigenous women and girls, which sent a report to the state legislature in December 2020.
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