“It’s been 136 days since the lifeless body of Tioni Theus was left discarded on the side of the 110 Freeway, but for the Theus family it has been an eternal nightmare they will never wake up from,” said Councilmember Price. “The cries of the community have called us to be the voice for a child who had her life stolen away in the most horrific way possible.”
To that end, the L.A. City Council unanimously passed a motion seeking an equity analysis on violence facing Black women and girls, while citing the disproportionate number of missing and murdered of Black women and girls in the United States.
The motion was introduced by Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson following the still unsolved brutal murder of Tioni Theus, a 16-year-old Black girl whose body was found alongside the Manchester Avenue onramp to the 110 Freeway. It seeks an equity analysis from the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights) and LAPD.
“All too often we don’t see the cases of missing or murdered Black women and girls publicized in mainstream media. Interviews with family members, law enforcement or potential witnesses are seldom broadcast. This erasure reinforces the racist notion that the lives of Black women and girls are of lesser value—or don’t matter—in our society,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
“The people living in the neighborhoods I represent know and feel the rates of crimes against Black mothers, sisters, and daughters,” Councilmember Harris-Dawson continued. “We see it firsthand. This motion is an attempt to make other people quantify the stories and experiences we live. My hope is that once people understand the depth of this problem then we can start moving toward justice, including justice for Tioni Theus and her family.”
The motion instructs the LA Civil Rights Department, with the assistance of the LAPD, to publish an equity analysis on violence and crime facing Black women and girls in the City of Los Angeles, the rate at which homicides and violent crimes against them are solved, how missing persons cases involving Black women and girls are handled, and policy recommendations for providing equity and justice for these victims and their families.
“Black women and girls face some of the highest rates of violence of anyone in our community, and they are suffering in silence,” said LA Civil Rights Executive Director Capri Maddox. “These women deserve justice, and they deserve to have their stories told. We are grateful to Councilmember Price and Councilmember Harris-Dawson for championing this issue and look forward to providing an equity analysis on the injustice facing Black women and girls.”
Said Price, “I am pleased to see all of the collective forces in government standing united in the name of Tioni Theus and all of the other unnamed Black girls who have fallen victim to senseless acts of violence.”
In 2020, Black women and girls faced the highest murder rate of any ethnic group in the United
States, according to the FBI. Approximately 33 percent of people reported missing each year are Black, according to the Our Black Girls project, which tracks and reports on missing and murdered Black women.
Meanwhile, national news coverage of missing and murdered women and girls underrepresents the issue. A 2016 study published in the Northwestern Law Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology revealed that while Black Americans make up more than a third of all missing persons reported to the FBI, they make up approximately one-fifth of the missing persons reported in the mainstream media. By comparison, the study showed that white missing persons received slightly more media coverage than their actual share of the total missing persons population.
The LA Civil Rights Department and LAPD will publish its findings in the coming months, with recommendations for policy & other changes the city can make to ensure equity and justice for Black women and girls.