Report: Violence Against Black Women in Los Angeles Remains High

Even as the serious crime rate in Los Angeles is trending down, black women and girls remain at greater risk of victimization than any other demographic, according to a report from the city’s civil rights department.

At the same time, according to the report, their deaths and disappearances receive far less attention from law enforcement and the media than other races.

The findings reflect the added burdens placed on black women, who are forced to overcome “financial instability, income inequality, housing insecurity, and a myriad of other potential social security risks,” even as ‘they face the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color, according to the report.

“Black women live in a uniquely precarious situation as a result of decades of discrimination, based on both racism and sexism,” the report said.

Council members Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson commissioned the study last year after the murder of Tioni Theus, a 16-year-old black girl who was shot and left along a southern highway from Los Angeles.

Citing statistics from the LAPD, the report found that while black women make up about 4.3% of the city’s population, they often make up 25% to 33% of its victims of violence.

During the period from January 2011 to August 2022, 481 women were killed in Los Angeles. Nearly a third, or 158, of those victims were black, and the deaths were concentrated in poorer neighborhoods, according to the report. Many have been killed in acts of intimate partner violence. The number of Latina women murdered jumped more than 38% during that time, but black women were “statistically the most overrepresented” relative to their share of the population, the report said.

Black women were the victims of about one-third of the 62,264 aggravated assaults against female victims reported to the LAPD during the period. They were nearly twice as likely to be seriously injured in an assault as women of other races.

“Fundamentally, when things go wrong, women of color, especially black women, suffer the consequences,” said Capri Maddox, executive director of the city’s civil rights department, whose full name is the Department of Civil Rights. civil and human rights and equity. “This is just another example of how we are ‘weathered’. I mean, we deal with biases in the workplace, biases in medicine and even biases about how to protect our personal safety. .

Racial disparities in violent crime rates aren’t new to LA Statistics of disproportionate bloodshed in black and Latino neighborhoods have historically been used by civic and police leaders to push for more aggressive policing there.

But after the social uproar of the past few years, the report reflects a shift in political discourse about the role of the police and what public safety will look like in the future. Its authors argue that the city should increase funding for community groups working to address these disparities, which fuel crime, and to explore “alternative community responses to domestic violence that don’t require calling the police,” the report says. report, which was presented to the City Council’s Civil Rights Commission on Friday.

The report recommended investing in prevention strategies such as youth development and empowerment, training of medical professionals on how to identify victims of abuse, and victim-centered responses to violence that do not “retraumatize the survivor”.

The report urged the LAPD to review some of its domestic violence management policies and strengthen its ties with community organizations that provide crisis intervention and violence prevention services.

The results were hardly unexpected, said Marsha Mitchell, director of communications for the nonprofit advocacy group Community Coalition.

“There is a history of inaction regarding violence against (B)lack women,” Mitchell said in an email. She noted that police and media indifference to black grief dates back at least to the so-called Grim Sleeper serial murders, when the LAPD kept quiet about the killings despite suspicions that a killer was stalking young black women.

For Bernita Walker, the lack of empathy for black women comes as no surprise in a country that has been slow to come to terms with racism deeply rooted in its history.

“We know there is a problem with black women’s lives that is not widely covered as it should be” by the media, said Walker, who runs Project: PeaceMakers Inc., a violence organization domestic based in South Los Angeles. Sometimes the voices of Black women who find themselves in cycles of abuse are ignored until it’s too late because people “feel like we’re overreacting” — and the police don’t always deal with it. these cases with the same urgency, she said.

The report offers a glimmer of optimism — the LAPD solved 77 of 81 homicides of black women between 2016 and 2022. But he questioned the accuracy of LAPD statistics due to inconsistencies in reporting and also pointed out that many crimes go unreported, especially in communities. of color. Fractured trust in law enforcement remains a key issue in some Black and Latino communities.

Theus was last seen on January 7, 2022. She had told a family member that she was going to a party with a friend.

Because her body was discovered on an on-ramp to the 110 freeway, the California Highway Patrol is investigating the case.

The report says the news stories, which started as a trickle, overstated the possibility that “theft and prostitution” may have played a role in her death.

Such “victim-blaming” language and framing “normalizes” acts of violence against other black women, according to the report.

Najee Ali, a longtime community organizer, said the report “just confirms what black activists have known for decades.”

The fatal stabbing of a young white woman named Brianna Kupfer around the same time made headlines across the country. According to Ali, media coverage of Theus’ death only resumed after he and his family began publicly denouncing “the hypocrisy”.

After that, city and county leaders pledged tens of thousands of dollars in rewards for information leading to an arrest.

Nafeesah Kincy, Theus’ cousin, said she was glad Theus was still on people’s minds, but the loss was hard.

“Here I am, a black woman who has to go out every day and deal with all this depression, knowing that my life doesn’t matter,” Kincy said. “Tioni was a beautiful soul, and she didn’t deserve this, and I just want her name to stay out there and stay alive, and I just hope it gets reported, it shakes someone’s memory. “

Another cousin, Solona Theus, said people should stop judging a murdered teenager who was dealing with the death of her mother.

“A lot of people want to talk and say, ‘Well, she was online, or she was dressed that way, or she was out there on the street,'” Solona Theus said. . Many of these girls are just human beings.

Los Angeles Times

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