CHICAGO — Black women and girls account for more than 35% of the missing people reported by Chicago police in the last two decades.
On Wednesday evening, youth activists are raising awareness about their plight and marching to demand change.
The teens are heading down King Drive with community members, activists and other youth leaders not far behind.
The march was created by a 13-year-old girl in 2017 looking to channel her anger into action.
It came after she learned about the lack of attention given to missing Black and brown girls in Chicago.
“Communities are outraged at the alarming rate that women who are Black are going missing,” Tanisha Williams with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization said.
The marchers on Wednesday are demanding thorough police investigations into at least 51 Black women who have been missing since 2001.
“When Black women go missing, it’s like people go to sleep, they roll over and can’t be bothered to deal with it or bothered to hear it,” one marcher said.
People like Teresa Smith know the pain firsthand. Her mother, Daisy Hayes, disappeared in 2018.
“My mother was murdered, not only missing, murdered,” Smith said. “And then the guy was acquitted for it.”
Along with shedding a light on the missing and murdered, organizers are calling for widespread policy changes and want a seat at the decision-making table at the local, state and federal levels.
“When we say what’s happening to us, we’re possibly the experts,” Williams. “When we create things, then those directly impacted and affected should be at the table. There’s been talk about a task force but none of the community is at the table. Nobody who has been directly impacted to aid the issues is at the table. We are concerned with that.”
Some affected families and community members said police are dismissing missing person cases of color and don’t treat it with the same urgency or care as white counterparts.
“I had a friend who I knew very close, very personal. Her name is Nikita Jackson,” one person said. “She came up missing. They paid no attention to her being missing from 69th and Indiana because of her situation. Because she was a prostitute, because she was on drugs. They didn’t do much to look for her. This needs to change.”
Organizers said they will continue holding the event until the cases are resolved and the families of the missing receive closure.