Lawmakers propose task force on missing, murdered African American women
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 11/8/23-Sen. Rosalind Osgood, D-Tamarac, during session, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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'To turn a blind eye to these injustices is to undermine the very principles upon which our society is built.'

A disproportionate share of Florida women and girls who go missing yearly are African American. Two state lawmakers now want to assemble a panel to investigate why, and how to address the problem.

Tamarac Sen. Rosalind Osgood and Miami Gardens Rep. Felicia Robinson have filed legislation (SB 354, HB 325) to establish a “Task Force on Missing and Murdered African-American Women” and earmark $150,000 for its yearlong operation.

The group, which would work within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), would be tasked with advising the Department’s Executive Director and making recommendations to the Legislature on reducing violence against Black women and girls.

“The urgency of finding missing African American women demands a dedicated task force,” Osgood said in a statement. “The disproportionately high number of missing persons and the systemic issues that contribute to these disparities call for special attention. We must stand firm in our commitment to justice, equality, and the safety of all individuals.”

Data from the Florida Crime Information Center, an FDLE public access system, shows a marked racial discrepancy in missing women across the state. Of 123,869 women who went missing in Florida from Jan. 1, 2018, to Oct. 17, 2023, 44% were African American.

By comparison, just 17% of the state population is Black or African American, according to the most recently available Census data.

Florida’s rate of missing people of color exceeds the national average, according to a Census data review by the nonprofit Black and Missing Foundation, which found 39% of missing people are African American.

Task force members, of whom there would be at least 12, would have to be appointed by Sept. 1, 2024, and begin meeting within a month. Appointments would come from, among other sources, the Senate, House, law enforcement associations, legal groups and statewide advocacy organizations.

They would have to examine and report on systemic causes behind violence against African American women and girls, methods for tracking and collecting data on the matter and measures necessary to reduce and eliminate the problem while helping victims, their families and communities.

The panel would have to turn in a report Dec. 15, 2025. Sixteen days later, the group would disband.

“Investigating the disproportionate trends of missing and murdered African-American women is not just a matter of justice; it’s a matter of fulfilling our society’s commitment to equality and protection,” Robinson said in a statement. “To turn a blind eye to these injustices is to undermine the very principles upon which our society is built.”

SB 354 and HB 325 await a hearing before the first of three committees to which each were referred, respectively. If approved, the legislation would go into effect immediately.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


4 comments

  • Richard Russell

    December 11, 2023 at 11:43 am

    I probably speak for most Whites (Caucasian) males: it’s not us committing any crimes against Black/African American women. So Law Enforcement and the Liberal media should get their heads on straight and look in the right place for your answers on who is committing those crimes!

    • rick whitaker

      December 11, 2023 at 2:43 pm

      richard russell, once again your comment is a white christian nationalist trope. i’m white and most of my male friends are white and not even one of us agree with your dumb statement. the people you run with or are referring to are maga cultist for sure. good luck with that. btw, this is 2023 not 1923.

  • It's Complicated

    December 11, 2023 at 2:00 pm

    Agree that they need to solve these disappearances, but they need to look at cultural and behavioral factors, too, and address those. How are law enforcement agencies going to solve these sorts of crimes if members of those communities refuse to speak to law enforcement? Cold blooded murders in a crowd often have zero eye-witnesses. It may be a self preservation thing in that community, but it has to be resolved to move forward.

  • rick whitaker

    December 11, 2023 at 2:37 pm

    it’s complicated, your comment was one big racist trope. shame on you. white christian nationalist like you are so tiring.

Comments are closed.


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