Photos: Facebook\The Black and Missing Foundation
WASHINGTON – Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, Tuesday introduced the Brittany Clardy Missing And Murdered Black Women And Girls Act, critical legislation to address the nationwide crisis of missing and murdered Black women and girls.
“This spring, my home state of Minnesota became the first state to create a dedicated office for missing and murdered Black women,” Rep. Omar said. “While Black women and girls comprise 7% of the population, they represent 40% of domestic violence victims in the state. They’re also nearly 3 times more likely than their white peers to be murdered. This bill is dedicated to the memory of Minnesotans like Brittany Clardy, (above) and the countless other Black women who have been the victims of crimes but whose cases were initially brushed off by law enforcement. The crisis of missing and murdered Black women and girls demands urgent action. This is not just a piece of legislation; it’s a beacon of hope for Black women and girls across the nation. By creating a dedicated office, we are not only addressing the alarming disparities in violence but also reaffirming our commitment to ensuring that every Black life is valued and protected.”
“Despite Black women and girls representing a disproportionate number of missing women in the United States, their cases typically garner less attention,” said Rep. Watson Coleman. “These missing women are mothers and daughters; sisters and friends. Each of them deserve the attention we would give to any missing person. The creation of a dedicated office within the DOJ focused on these cases can offer hope to the families and friends of the nearly 100,000 missing Black women and girls across the country.”
“The federal government must do more to address the nationwide crisis of missing and murdered Black women and girls. Dedicating an office within the Department of Justice focused on these cases will provide families with hope, and the government with the tools to adequately address this disparity. The Brittany Clardy Act reaffirms the CBC’s commitment to keeping Black women and girls safe and to finding solutions to issues that have harmful impacts on the communities that we serve,” said CBC Chairman Steven Horsford.
“In 2021, the state of Minnesota became the first in the nation to create a Missing & Murdered African American Women’s Task Force,” said Dr. Brittany Lewis, Founder and CEO of Research in Action. “As a leader of this effort, Research in Action used our community-centered Equity in Action process model to work with women who have been directly impacted by this violence in the final legislative report to identify concrete and actionable solutions.”
“Many young Black women in the US have the same story as Brittany but do not get media attention, the families are not heard by law enforcement, and they are left to feel lost and hopeless,” said Lakeisha Lee, Co-founder of The Brittany Clardy Foundation. “I, as Brittany’s keeper, want to bring awareness to those lost voiceless, amplify their needs, and walk alongside survivors with hope for future generations, advocating for change. We must and CAN do better. I believe when black women and girls are safe, ALL of us are safe.”
The new legislation will establish an Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls within the Department of Justice. This office will spearhead efforts to counter disparities in violence conducting research and collecting data related to missing and murdered Black women and girls, develop policy and best practices recommendations, and create a centralized repository for tracking of relevant cases. The office will also provide grants to local organizations providing culturally-appropriate services to victims and impacted families.
Recent statistics underscore the urgency of this legislation. In 2022, a staggering 40% of all missing women and girls in the United States were Black, with homicide ranking as the second leading cause of death among this group. These 97,924 missing Black women and girls were beloved daughters, mothers, aunts, and friends. However, due to underreporting and a lack of coordination across state lines, many of their stories remain untold.
Minnesota has led the way in studying this issue through the state Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
In May 2023 they established the nation’s first Office of Missing and Murdered African American Women and Girls. This legislation aims to replicate proven solutions nationwide with federal leadership and resources.
The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Alma Adams, Ph.D, Joyce Beatty, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Jamaal Bowman, Shontel M. Brown, Cori Bush, André Carson, Troy A. Carter, Sr., Kathy Castor, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Angie Craig, Jasmine Crockett, Debbie Dingell, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Maxwell Alejandro Frost, Jesús “Chuy” García , Al Green, Jahana Hayes, Sheila Jackson Lee , Sara Jacobs, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Sydney Kamlager-Dove, Robin L. Kelly, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Stephen F Lynch, Jennifer L. McClellan, Betty McCollum, Kweisi Mfume, Gwen Moore, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Donald M. Payne, Jr, Ayanna Pressley, Delia Ramirez, David Scott, Terri Sewell , Marilyn Strickland, Rashida Tlaib, Ritchie Torres, Juan Vargas, Maxine Waters, Nikema Williams, Gregory Meeks, Joe Neguse, Glenn Ivey, Marc Veasey, Kevin Mullin, Steven Horsford, Jonathan Jackson, Bennie Thompson, Jim Clyburn, Danny Davis, Greg Casar and Summer Lee.
The bill is endorsed by Research in Action, the Brittany Clardy Foundation, American Public Health Association, Brittany Clardy Foundation, Center for Policing Equity (CPE), Center for Victims of Torture, Central MN Sexual Assault Center (CMSAC), Coalition of Labor Union Women, Florida Rising, Girl Vow , Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, Zero Abuse Project, March of Silence NYC, Minnesota Alliance on Crime, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault , National Council of Negro Women, Inc., National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), Research in Action, School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University, Sexual Violence Center, The Advocates for Human Rights, The Bloomberg American Health Initiative, andThe MORE Network.
You can read the full bill text here
You can read a one-pager on the legislation here