When Minnesota unveiled the Office of Missing and Murdered African American Women earlier this year, it sought to understand the disparities around the disappearance and killing of Black women in the state.
While Black women and girls make up only 7% of the state’s population, they make up 40% of domestic violence cases, and are three times more likely to be murdered than their white counterparts, according to the report that led to the creation of the office.
Now, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, alongside New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson, is set to bring that office to the federal government.
The legislation, named the Clardy act, after Brittany Clardy, who was murdered in St. Paul in 2013.
“This bill is dedicated to the memory of Minnesotans like Brittany Clardy, and the countless other Black women who have been the victims of crimes but whose cases were initially brushed off by law enforcement,” said Rep. Omar. “The crisis of missing and murdered Black women and girls demands urgent action. This is not just a piece of legislation; it's a beacon of hope for Black women and girls across the nation. By creating a dedicated office, we are not only addressing the alarming disparities in violence but also reaffirming our commitment to ensuring that every Black life is valued and protected."
The Clardy Act would establish a federal agency to coordinate with federal, state and local agencies to reopen cold cases involving Black women and girls. The office would be a subdivision of the Federal Justice Department, and would collect data on missing and murdered Black women and girls, as well as the law enforcement response to those cases.
The agency would also issue grants to support local community organizers in the effort to train officials on how to adequately address what Watson calls an “epidemic” of missing Black women.
A number of other Minnesota reps have thrown their support behind Omar, including Reps Betty McCollum, Dean Phillips, and Angie Craig. Craig’s office issued a statement saying "following the effort at the state level during the last session, I'm joining my Minnesota colleagues in pushing to do the same on the national level to ensure this issue is receiving the urgent attention and care it deserves."