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Rush Calls on DOJ and FBI to Establish Task Force to Address Growing Backlog of Unsolved Missing Person and Murder Cases, With Focus on Black Victims

July 29, 2021

In April, Rush held a panel on Chicago-area cases of missing and murdered women and girls

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) called on Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to develop a task force to address a growing backlog of unsolved missing person and murder cases and determine necessary strategies to specifically address cases involving minority women and children.

"I write to you in the wake of the 20th anniversary of Tionda and Diamond Bradley's tragic disappearance. As you may know, on July 6, 2001, Tionda and Diamond Bradley were reported missing from their mother's South Side Chicago home at the ages of 3 and 10, respectively. They were never found. Unfortunately, this case, while tragic, is not unique," Rep. Rush wrote.

"A great deal of similarly heinous missing person and murder crimes that involve minority women and girls remain unsolved. In addition, children of color are often initially classified as runaways rather than missing — meaning that they do not receive a timely Amber Alert that is all too often critical to solving these types of cases. Considering the severity of this problem and your shared commitment to equity and justice, I urge you to establish a task force to address the backlog of unsolved missing person and murder cases, particularly those pertaining to Black women and girls."

Black victims are overrepresented in missing person and murder case files relative to their share of the population. Nationally, cases involving missing Black Americans remain open and unresolved four times longer than cases involving white and Hispanic Americans. The nationwide homicide clearance rate has dropped by nearly 30 percent since 1965, meaning that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are increasingly left at large. Only 4 out of every 10 murders are solved in Chicago, and only 22 percent of murders involving Black victims are solved, compared to 47 percent of cases solved for white victims.

"In view of these circumstances, I request that you develop a task force to address the growing backlog of unsolved missing person and murder cases in communities including the South Side of Chicago. Such a task force should develop a strategy to tackle this backlog through close coordination with Federal, state, and local officials. Further, this task force should assess current practices and determine what strategies are necessary to specifically address cases involving minority women and children — especially those within Black communities," Rush wrote.

The full text of Rep. Rush's letter is available HERE.

Congressman Rush has been outspoken about the need to do more to address the crisis of missing and murdered Black women and girls. In April, Rush convened a panel discussion about missing Black women and girls in the Chicago area moderated by ABC 7 Chicago anchor Evelyn Holmes. Panelists included Thomas Hargrove, founder of the Murder Accountability Project, as well as Rosie Dawson and Julia Flowers, founders of the Stop Taking Our Girls Campaign. Video from that panel discussion is available HERE.

In 2019, following reports that dozens of murders of Black women and girls between 2001 and 2017 remained unsolved, Congressman Rush asked the FBI to intervene and start processing backlogged evidence. He also held a community alert meeting to hear from local law enforcement and family members of the victims. Rush also led an amendment that year in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which received unanimous support, to increase funding for a DOJ grant program to help clear rape kit backlogs

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Issues:Civil Rights