Minnesota Launches Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force to Investigate Why Black Women Face Higher Rates of Violence

Marquita Clardy wears a necklace with her daughter Brittany’s photo on Nov. 26, 2014, at Brittany’s Place in St. Paul, a shelter for victims of sex trafficking. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)

A new Minnesota task force is examining why Black women experience higher rates of violence than any other race, a first-of-its-kind effort that leaders hope will inspire action at the Capitol and in other states.

Black women and girls have been victims in a spate of violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul this year, and statistically they are killed by homicide at nearly three times the rate of white women, according to a 2017 study from the Centers for Disease Control.

But their cases get less attention from media and law enforcement and Black women stay missing four times longer on average than women in general, said Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, who sponsored legislation to create the task force.

“What I’m most excited about is we are going to leave this task force with a blueprint, a blueprint for change, a blueprint to bring Black women and girls back home,” Richardson said ahead of a ceremonial bill signing on Monday.

Lawmakers passed the Task Force on Missing and Murdered African American Women in July as part of the state’s budget, modeling its work after a panel that spent nearly two years digging into why Native American women are murdered and go missing at disproportionately high rates. Native women experience violence at nearly the same rate as Black women, according to the CDC.

“There is an important intersection in the disproportionate violence that is perpetrated against Native women and African American women,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. “The disproportionate violence that our communities experience is very real. We need to enter a place where the value of Black women is the value of women, period.”

The 12-person task force will spend the next year trying to identify the root causes of violence against Black women and the systemic failures that keep so many cases from being solved.

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SOURCE: Minnesota Star Tribune, Briana Bierschbach