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Missing Black Women Don't Get The Media, Police Attention They Need

In Chicago's 100-degree heat Tuesday, Myrna Walker marched for her sister Nancie Walker, whom she last heard from in 2003 before she disappeared. Walker recounted how sanitation workers found her sister’s dismembered body in three garbage bags alongside an expressway. More than 20 years later, the case is unsolved, the Washington Post reports. “I want some justice. Our mother is 93. She wants to know something before she dies,” she said. This is the fifth year in a row that Walker and 70 other women on Chicago’s South Side have participated in the We Walk for Her march in memory of women and girls, most of whom were Black, whose bodies were either later recovered but their cases never were solved or who vanished and have not been found. For years, activists in Chicago have pressed city leaders and the police to take these disappearances more seriously. The common refrain at this year’s march was that attention from police and the news media is scarce when Black women and girls disappear, as opposed to White women and girls. Regarding police response to her sister’s case, Walker said, “It has been null and void almost from the time we went to the police station” in 2003 to report the disappearance.

Even when police have evidence, families say, some cases still flounder. Latonya Moore last saw her daughter Shantieya Smith on May 26, 2018. The following month, Smith’s body was found decomposing in a parking garage. DNA samples that police said they sent to the Illinois Crime Lab never arrived. Moore said the police told her that the officer originally handling the case was reassigned to another district. Chicago is part of a larger national problem. More than 260,000 women went missing in 2020, the latest year tracked by the National Crime Information Center. Thirty-five percent of the total, a little more than 90,000, were Black women, a stark finding considering that Blacks account for about thirteen percent of the U.S. population. Statistics show that Black women are at a high risk for multiple factors that could lead to disappearances. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that forty five percent of Black women experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.


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