Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature voted to approve a 12-person panel that will examine violence against Black women. The first meeting was held on Monday, November 29.
"What we know right now is we don't know enough about missing Black women and girls and women who have been murdered, said State Rep. Ruth Richardson, a longtime advocate of the panel, according to the Duluth News Tribune. “We are going to leave this task force with a blueprint: a blueprint for change, a blueprint to bring Black women and girls home, a blueprint to solve their crimes and to be able to ensure that everyone has equal access to the services that they need when they need them."
Minnesota law enforcement officials have already reached out to the group to work with it in order to address the issue.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a statement, "I believe that the notoriety is already having an impact, it is calling the question and there are voices across the United States that are calling this question to say, 'If not now, when?' We need to make sure that law enforcement and the community know these cases are important and they deserve our attention."
The task force’s mission is to create policy solutions by December 2022 that could help in cases of missing and murdered Black women and girls. Prior to the task force’s first meeting, many Minnesota families affected by the violence met and cheered on Gov. Tim Walz signing legislation backing the initiative.
"The state of Minnesota's not going to set back and look at the statistics and just say, 'That's too bad.' The idea is it has to stop with us," said Walz.
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Black women face violence that is three times that of white women. The CDC has been reporting since at least 2017 that Black women face significantly higher rates of homicide than every other female demographic in the US. Homicides of Black women appear to have been increasing even before last year’s murder spike, according to the CDC. Records show that overall Black men and boys at an additional 2,400 deaths over 2019, face the worst numbers of homicides. However, the numbers facing Black women in comparison to similar demographics are nonetheless staggering.
Additionally, Black Femicide US, an advocacy group that tracks violence and murders of Black women and girls, says it tracked 1,068 killings of Black women and girls through 2021.