When it comes to Black women, Rosie Dawson said she feels “we just don’t count enough for people to care” when they go missing.
That’s why she’s teamed up with Roberta Logwood to launch the “Stop Taking Our Girls” campaign, a grassroots movement aimed at raising awareness about the growing number of missing African-American women and girls across Chicago, Illinois. The group also is turning to police and the local community to help bring an end to this issue.
“We’re not going to allow people to come into our community and just be comfortable, in this place, taking our children,” Logwood told Chicago-based station WGN 9.
Logwood knows the reality of it all too well, as she’s been the victim of an attempted kidnapping — twice. The first came when she was just 8 years old; luckily a neighbor was there to intervene.
She was nearly snatched again at age 17 when she says a man stole her cell phone. As she began to chase after him, a strange car pulled up, offering to help. The man popped his trunk and tried to convince Logwood to get in so they could pursue the thief. She ran off instead.
“I did file a police report,” Logwood recalled. “The dispatch told me this had happened before and they succeeded in kidnapping the girl.”
Now, she and Dawson are working to save lives and spread awareness to ensure incidents like this don’t continue happening. It’s been reported that since 2001, over 50 missing African-American women have been killed in the Windy City. Dawson said she fears that number is much higher.
“It’s not an urban legend,” she told the station. “They are doing it.”
The lack of representation in the news media has also proven difficult when trying to get the word out about missing Black folks. Recent data has shown that missing white children receive significantly more airtime than missing children of color, despite higher rates of missing kids in Black and Hispanic communities.
A 2015 report also found that African-American kids comprised nearly 35 percent of the missing children cases in the FBI’s database, yet accounted for just 7 percent of media references.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, said media coverage is essential to helping solve these cases.
“It puts law enforcement on alert, and they add additional resources to the case,” she told CNN last year. “If no one knows about it, then no one’s doing anything to find them or to help them get the assistance they need.”
That’s the mission behind Dawson and Logwood’s campaign. Their group has been meeting for the last three months to spread the word and create plans to catch would-be kidnappers. Safety information is also given at the meetings, and there’s even a self-defense class, WGN 9 reports.
“We hear a lot of different things in the streets,” said Dawson. “So we want to bring awareness to elected officials, we want the police officers to know we appreciate them, but we need them to appreciate us in this community also.”
Watch more in the video below.