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Police, activists have to work more closely to stop crimes against Black women, girls

Young activists are again calling attention to missing Black women and girls.

Cheretha Morrison disappeared from the Southwest Side last Friday.
Chicago police

We shouldn’t have to live in fear.

But for too many of us, fear has become our constant companion, like the mask we grab before we walk out in public.

On Wednesday, a reader reached out via email with this sad testimony:

“Hi Ms. Mitchell, [I] watch the news and get so disturbed and now another young lady is missing. Why aren’t we talking about the women who are coming up missing in Chicago? It’s scary out here. It’s a feeling of creepiness when [you’re] walking down the street. It’s not safe anymore. Chicago used to be such a cool city to live in... This is the place I grew up in, and I love a lot of things about Chicago. I’m just tired of hearing about missing women and kids getting shot and carjackings. Thank you, have a great day.”

Coincidentally, that same morning, the Rev. Robin Hood, a long-time community organizer in North Lawndale, called to ask where he could send an award I received from “Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere (M.O.V.E.) and Youth Opposed to Violence Everywhere (Y.O.V.E.). It is the first year for the “We Fight for Her Award.” The honor was shared with several local journalists during a virtual ceremony Feb. 15.

Like my reader, there are so many things that I love about Chicago, starting with the majesty of skyscrapers and the expanse of Lake Michigan.

But I recently downloaded the “Citizen” app that gives 911 alerts about everything from car accidents to shootings near my location, and I can see why more Black people are arming themselves.

To give you an idea of the daily chaos, on Wednesday, I was notified of a carjacking at gunpoint, an assault and robbery, and a collision with injuries, all happening before 4 p.m.

These days, I have to read the 91st Psalm before going to the grocery store.

There may not be more crime, but we are certainly more aware of the crimes occurring.

For instance, Chicago police are looking for a 38-year-old pregnant woman, Cheretha Morrison, who disappeared from the Southwest Side last Friday.

The woman’s family suspects foul play because Morrison failed to pick up her 4-year-old daughter from school, and her car was found in Rogers Park days later.

Hood told me Morrison is his next-door neighbor’s cousin.

“They think somebody has snatched her up. They believe someone just took her because she didn’t pick up her children from school on Friday, and she never did that,” Hood said.

A situation like this would not have garnered much media attention a few years ago. Still, groups like M.O.V.E. and Y.O.V.E. are making progress with their demands that we pay as much attention to Black women’s and girls' disappearances as we do to missing women of other races.

On hearing about Morrison’s disappearance, I was reminded of the mystery involving Kierra Coles.

The pregnant postal worker disappeared in 2018 without a trace.

Last month, Coles’ mother, Karen Phillips, revealed that a widely-circulated video purported to show Coles walking past her vehicle on the day she disappeared was bogus.

Phillips told NBC-5 she went to the police station to share her concern that it wasn’t her daughter on the video. But detectives already knew it wasn’t her daughter, and she was told not to tell anybody.

“Now I have nothing to lose. I mean, it’s been two years, and you [investigators] have come up with nothing,” Phillips said in the interview with NBC-5 that aired Feb. 3.

Hood, who works with the young women leading the campaign to focus more media attention on murdered and missing Black women and girls, doesn’t have much confidence in investigators.

“After these last few years, I’m convinced that Chicago police are careless and incompetent. They are bad at solving crime because they need a lot of help from the community, “ Hood said.

But the community needs good policing now more than ever.

It will take the police to get on their jobs and the activists to get on theirs to reduce the horrible crimes against Black women and girls.