Your NPR news source
Hundreds of activists wear white T-shirts that read "We Walk With Her" during the seventh annual march on South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Bronzeville, Chicago

Mariah Lucious (center), 18, says that as a Black woman, she feels like she has to watch her back all the time.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Hundreds march to demand more help finding Black girls and women who are missing

The seventh annual “We Walk for Her” march was held by the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization.

Brittany Lindsey remembers when she was 4 years old walking the streets of Bronzeville with family members, calling out the names of her mother’s childhood friends in a desperate effort to find the girls who had gone missing more than a decade earlier.

Now 12 years old, Brittany marched with a few hundred others Thursday in the “We Walk for Her” demonstration, a youth-led walk to demand justice for missing and murdered Black women and girls.

She walked for her mom’s childhood neighbors, Diamond and Tionda Bradley, who went missing from their South Side apartment in 2001 at ages 10 and 3, respectively, and have still not been found.

“I came out here to really just help out my community and like represent all the Black girls that went missing,” Brittany said.

The demonstrators marched down South King Drive, from 35th Street to 51st Street, shouting chants like, “Stop and listen, our girls are missing.” They wore shirts reading, “Find our girls,” and some held signs reading, “Protect our girls” and “Save our girls.”

Brittany Lindsey, 12, chants during the “We Walk for Her” march as she wears a white T-shirt with the event's name.

Brittany Lindsey, 12 — whose mother was friends with Tionda and Diamond Bradley, two sisters who went missing in Bronzeville in 2001 — chants during the seventh annual “We Walk for Her” march Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The seventh annual walk was led by the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization.

Zakiyyah Muhammad, 78, has walked in all seven marches. She calls herself “lucky” to not have had a family member go missing, but said if she had, “I’d want someone to get out there and bring attention to finding them.

“We need to make a lot of noise and draw attention to the people who get paid to investigate and look for missing people. And we feel that they’re not doing it, and we feel like they don’t really care because they’re Black women,” Muhammad said.

Zakiyyah Muhammad wears a red headscarf and a white "We Walk for Her" T-shirt during the march along South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Zakiyyah Muhammad, 78, a community activist from Douglas, walks along South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive during the “We Walk for Her” march Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Despite making up about 12% of Cook County’s population, Black women and girls account for about 30% of Cook County’s active missing persons, according to the county sheriff’s office and the U.S. Census Bureau.

‘Carousel of officers’

Leaders called out double standards in police resources and media coverage of missing persons who are Black or members of other minority groups compared with those who are white.

“Anytime a woman that is not of color, mostly a white woman, there are dogs, there are search parties, there are Amber Alerts, there are everything that they can get to make sure that they look for that white woman,” Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) said. “But when it comes to Black women, that’s not the same thing.”

Taylor is pushing for a City Council meeting of the Public Safety Committee to discuss ways to address those discrepancies.

“We’ve got an issue here,” Taylor said. “And so what these young women have been asking for, for the last seven years, is a task force, and that task force would include those young women because too often, young people start the fight and adults try to finish it. We’re not doing that.”

Activists including children chant while wearing white "We Walk for Her" T-shirts, with one of them at center wearing a red jacket and speaking through a bullhorn.

Activists chant and march along South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive during the seventh annual “We Walk for Her” demonstration, which aims to bring attention to missing Black women and girls.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization leaders are lobbying city officials to add a citizen liaison between police officers and families whose loved ones are missing.

“There’s always this carousel of officers,” Shannon Bennett, the organization’s executive director, told the Sun-Times, adding that there are often large cultural gaps between families and officers, “particularly with Black folks and white officers.”

“A lot of times people call the district, and they have nobody responding or constantly a different detective, so you can imagine how that leaves a loved one,” Bennett said.

Leaders also are calling on the state to implement a system similar to one enacted in California called the Ebony Alert that, comparable to the Amber Alert in abduction cases, notifies residents about the suspicious disappearance of a Black person between 12 and 25 years old who suffers from a mental or physical impairment.

‘As if their lives aren’t valuable’

Cook County Commissioner Monica Gordon recently led an effort on the Criminal Justice Committee to pass a resolution that led to a May 20 hearing with county stakeholders to discuss the status of missing Black women and girls.

“For some reason, the media doesn’t seem to really talk about these women of color who go missing; it’s as if their lives aren’t valuable, so that’s why I wanted to bring attention to this,” Gordon told the Sun-Times.

Cook County Sheriff’s Office Commander Jason Moran and Deputy Chief Dion Trotter detailed the office’s work on the issue at the meeting, including the office’s missing persons project launched in 2021.

The project tasks detectives to work on a list of people who have been missing for at least three years. Moran said 35 of about 170 cases on the list have been cleared through the program, resulting in locating the person alive or dead or realizing they had already been found.

Trotter spoke about the sheriff’s office’s child rescue unit, which was created in 2012 to search for missing kids who were in the care of the state Department of Children and Family Services. Since its creation, the office has found some 1,300 children, nearly 740 of them Black girls, Trotter said.

Moran and Trotter also emphasized the importance of submitting a missing person report as soon as someone goes missing, debunking a common misconception that people must wait a day or two.

A Criminal Justice Committee meeting to further discuss the issue is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Latest
An advisory commission was supposed to vote on the plan Friday, but couldn’t because not enough lawmakers showed up to the meeting.
The document includes 675 gang factions department members are forbidden from joining – but no hate or extremist groups. A police spokesperson indicated such groups will be identified on a case-by-case basis.
Burke, 80, Chicago’s longest-serving City Council member, is two weeks away from his June 24 sentencing hearing. Burke’s lawyers have asked the judge to give their client no prison time.
In a subpoena obtained by WBEZ, the feds wanted a list of county documents about a hack that potentially affected 1.2 million patients here.
The legislation, which has bipartisan support, would take guns from people with restraining orders against them.