Minnesota Becomes First in the Nation to Establish an Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls
Media Statement: Minnesota Becomes First in the Nation to Establish an Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls
Task force and community leaders call for additional resources, follow-through on recommendations from first-of-its-kind report
St. Paul — The State of Minnesota made history last Thursday by establishing the Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls (MMBWG). First of its kind in the nation, the MMBWG Office will promote a more equitable system response and allocate resources to close the gap in services for Black victims/survivors.
The legislation, carried by Representative Ruth Richardson, stems from recommendations of the recent, ground-breaking Minnesota Missing and Murdered African American Women’s Task Force Report, which elevated the acute disparities in violence against Black women and girls. Among other devastating data points, the task force found that Black women in Minnesota are three times more likely to be murdered than white women.
“My sister Brittany was a tireless youth worker, a community caretaker and a beloved family member when she was sexually exploited and murdered in St. Paul in 2013. That same month, a white woman with a similar story made national headlines as a tragic victim, while my sister’s reputation was destroyed and her story buried. The task force process was an unprecedented step to clearly articulate the epidemic of racialized violence and elevate specific steps we can take so that families don’t have to endure the unspeakable loss and injustice that my family did.”
—LAKEISHA LEE, COCHAIR OF THE TASK FORCE
The new MMBWG Office will address root causes of violence against Black women and girls, distribute grant funding to community organizations, and direct the Bureau of Criminal to operate a missing person alert system and support families on cold cases. While marking significant progress, leaders from the task force are calling for lawmakers to follow through on the key recommendations in their report that are essential to protecting Black women and girls.
“This marks a milestone moment for Black victims/survivors in Minnesota. Thanks to the courageous efforts of victims/survivors, community members, and legislative champions such as Rep. Richardson, who carried this bill, we have moved closer to a world where Black women and girls are believed and supported. But we can’t stop here. The state must follow through on all of the task force recommendations; in particular, funding emergency and long-term housing for Black victims/survivors that promotes the agency and thriving of Black women.”
—ARTIKA ROLLER, TASK FORCE MEMBER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE MINNESOTA COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT
Key recommendations of the task force include:
- Creating and funding specific spaces and resources to serve Black women and girls to address disparities and create new intervention and support models to generate better outcomes for victims of violence.
- Developing effective, culturally appropriate, anti-racist trainings and professional education for professionals who work with Black women and girls to build trust and repair historical harms.
- Hiring and retaining African American staff by eliminating unnecessary barriers to Black applicants and providing professional development resources to retain and support for Black, Indigenous and POC staff.
- Designing and supporting better coordination across agencies to reduce the frustrations, fears, and roadblocks Black women and girls experience, as well as increasing effectiveness of professionals.
- Making emergency and long-term housing accessible and affordable including funding for Black or BIPOC specific shelters and emergency safe houses
“Too often, policymakers ask for community to share their stories, relive their trauma, and give of their time and expertise—but then their recommendations simply sit on a shelf. This task force demands action. Lawmakers have been given concrete solutions and the chance to be a leader for every other state in the nation. The stakes are quite literally life or death for Black women and girls; it’s time to make real change.”
—DR. BRITTANY LEWIS, FOUNDER AND CEO OF RESEARCH IN ACTION, WHICH FACILITATED THE TASK FORCE PROCESS AND CO-PRODUCED THE REPORT
Read the full report at researchinaction.com/mmaaw.
Becca Gilbuena | firstname.lastname@example.org | 651.392.0612
Dr. Brittany Lewis | email@example.com | 612.205.8063