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U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar Fighting To Establish National Office For Missing Black Women And Girls

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Tasos Katopodis / Stringer / Getty Images

It’s been over a month since Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar and Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced the Brittany Clardy Missing And Murdered Black Women And Girls Act.

If this bill gets signed into law, it would create an Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls that would be housed within the U.S. Department of Justice. This office would conduct research, submit a report to Congress, and recommend policy solutions.

In addition, the Office would also create a nationwide advisory commission, composed of Black women and girls who have personally experienced “violence, abduction, or trafficking, along with family members of victims.”

What happens next? Rep. Omar sat down with ESSENCE and provided an update. “We’re getting people to sign on, and we’re still trying to build momentum.”

“This effort is vital in saving the lives of Black women and girls. The most helpful thing people can do to help us get this legislation passed is reaching out to their members of Congress telling them to support,” Rep. Omar continued.

Rep. Omar’s home state of Minnesota has been a pioneer with this issue. “In 2021, Minnesota enacted a law creating the nation’s first Office of Missing and Murdered African American Women and Girls and became the first state to fund research into this crisis – research that was led by directly impacted community members,” per a one-pager for the legislation.

Research demonstrates that there is a “racial disparity that is present in the investigation and allocation of resources in missing persons cases.” And missing Black women are disproportionately underrepresented in news coverage.

Since this became state law in Minnesota, Rep. Omar revealed that the task force has already been able to document that cases are treated differently when there is a Black versus a white victim. “It’s not that surprising,” said Rep. Omar, “our lives are not considered worthy of fighting for in many regards. But it’s really important for us to continue to be a voice for ourselves, and demand that we get treated same way.”

“This bill is dedicated to the memory of Minnesotans like Brittany Clardy, and the countless other Black women who have been the victims of crimes but whose cases were initially brushed off by law enforcement,” Rep. Omar told Teen Vogue.

“We wanted to make sure resources exist within the DOJ to serve every other state that might be willing to do that same work,” said Rep. Omar.

“The hope is that by creating a concentrated effort at the national level, we will be able to address this crisis.” Because ultimately, the goal is to “shape the ways in which law enforcement and other entities react when there is a missing and murdered Black woman.”

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