Minnesota is the first to prioritize a task force, the Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force (MMAAW), specifically aimed at finding missing Black women like Brittany Clardy under its new Office of Missing and Murdered African American Women and Girls.
Black women and girls like Clardy make up more than 60,000 of all missing persons in the U.S., FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul reported. According to State Rep. Ruth Richardson, the Black mother who represents areas south of St. Paul, Black women are about three times more likely to die of homicide than white women, missing persons cases take longer to resolve when they involve Black women or girls compared to their white counterparts, and missing and murdered Black women receive fewer media attention or Amber Alerts.
— Mary Stephanie (@Mary_Holm21) February 21, 2013
“This is a real, true crisis,” Richardson said. “One of the reasons this is so important is because when we see this data that our cases are not getting solved, or cases are not getting resources, it actually puts a target on the back of Black women and girls.”
The MMAAW was created in 2021, but it officially passed in the Minnesota House and Senate as of March 27, 2023, with the establishment of the office.
The new office will reopen cold cases that ended in suspicion, such as when a Black woman or girl committed suicide or overdosed on drugs, and the office will work not only with police agencies but also with community groups that are reluctant to speak with police but may have information about active cases.
Overall, MMAAW Task Force is an advisor to the Commissioner of Public Safety on issues concerning the task force, reporting to the Legislature on recommendations to reduce and end violence against Black women and girls in Minnesota, and serving as a liaison between the Commissioner and agencies and organizations that provide legal, social, and other community services to victims, victims’ families, and victims’ communities.
The legislation was inspired by the disappearance and death of 18-year-old Clardy, who was found dead in the trunk of her car after a man she was dating solicited her for sex.
Didnt knw that girl Brittany Clardy but it’s sad she went missing. happy they found the scumbag that did that to her pic.twitter.com/tBqFCsW8YU
— Porche S. ❤ (@p0rche_vspch0p) March 7, 2013
On Feb. 11, 2013, Clardy disappeared after turning 18. Her family, like her sister Lakeisha Lee, was worried and called the police. However, they were reportedly dismissed and told that Clardy would be back after spending time with her boyfriend.
“We knew something was wrong right away,” Lee said. “After they asked us her age and asked us about her demographics, they said, ‘Well, she just turned 18, she probably ran away with her boyfriend.’ We knew her. We’re the experts on our family.”
Clardy was found two weeks later, and Lee and her family placed some of the blame on the Minneapolis police, who could have investigated her disappearance before she was found dead.
Lee co-chairs Minnesota’s Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force and heads a number of advocacy groups, including the Brittany Clardy Foundation, in memory of her sister.
The MMAAW is not technically a new concept; it is modeled after existing Minnesota legislation passed in 2019, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force.
Some Native Americans, or indigenous people, identified as two-spirited, an umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans who represent either both male and female genders, or neither, as a third gender. Two-Spirit individuals would run away from home and face trauma, poverty and homelessness, domestic violence, and sex trafficking and prostitution.
In addition to Minnesota’s implementation of a Task Force on Black Women and Girls, other Midwestern states such as Illinois and Wisconsin are exploring the creation of a similar task force to address disparities in violence against Black women and girls.