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IN THE CASE OF MITRICE RICHARDSON: Black People: It's Time to Nut Up or Shut Up!
(November 12, 2009)
*On any other occasion, had the Los Angeles Police Department arrested and booked a young Black female and then let her go in the middle of the night without her purse, car, or cell phone, in the middle of nowhere never to be seen again-Black people would be screaming off with their heads.
We'd probably be ready to burn down police headquarters if the same law enforcement agency then took its sweet ass time in providing a police report-a police report that was clearly altered and amended-that would normally take 24 hours to secure and refused to provide video of the young Black female either entering or leaving the police station-only to tell the media 8 weeks later, that a tape doesn't exist.
So then can someone please tell me why the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department continues to get a pass for the mishandling and mistreatment of 24-year-old missing Mitrice Richardson?
The facts in the case are simple. On the evening of September 16 Mitrice Richardson was in Malibu at a restaurant. A call was made to the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff's station that she was acting "crazy" and couldn't pay her bill. The sheriff's searched her car and found some marijuana for personal use and arrested her. She was allegedly released from the sheriff's station a little after midnight on September 17 without her car, purse, or cell phone never to be heard from again.
In the past 55 days since Mitrice was last seen, the family has repeatedly made attempts to secure any video proving that Mitrice actually left the sheriff's station. Because quite frankly, it's just the sheriff's word that Mitrice left the station and I've watched enough "Law & Order" to know that the first suspect is always the last person known to be with the victim. In this case, that would be the Malibu-Lost Hill's Sheriff's Department.
Now if I were Sheriff Lee Baca, agenda item number one would be clearing my deputies of any wrong doing. So if that meant furnishing the videotape of Mitrice entering and/or exiting the Malibu-Lost Hill's Sheriff's station, well then so be it. If the video in question didn't exist, what I wouldn't do is string along the family for weeks allowing them to think there was a video. And I certainly wouldn't let the news of there being no video appear in a small Malibu newspaper before telling the family. But that's exactly what the sheriff's did.
So here we are nearly two months later and there are more questions than answers as it relates to the disappearance of the Cal State Fullerton graduate who lived in Watts with her great-grandmother. And yet nothing from a community that normally looks for police brutality and mistreatment in the same way our Mayor looks for news cameras- on a daily basis 24/7.
There's been no outcry from the NAACP, SCLC, Urban League, or other community advocate organizations that we typically see and here from in the media when an injustice has been committed against African-Americans. And I find myself asking why?
I mean if there was ever a clear case of police misconduct all wrapped up with a bow on it just waiting to be exposed, the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson is it. This is a case that went from Mitrice being released because the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff's station was overcrowded to her being released because there was no reason to hold her after it was proven that the jail was nowhere near being overcrowded.
I would hate to think that our collective silence has to do with the fact that Mitrice is a young Black female or that because she is a lesbian, her disappearance is somehow not important or related to Black people. This is a young lady who was doing everything right. A college graduate on her way to becoming a substitute teacher. A clean record. She is just 24-years-old. 24.
As the holiday season approaches the Richardson's carry the burden of keeping the torch lit in the search for Mitrice. A torch that is often dimmed when compared to other local and national news stories. Plainly put-the family needs the support of the collective community to call attention to this injustice.
Mitrice Richardson is our JC Dugard. Similar to the way in which California's parole officers failed JC Dugard, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's failed Mitrice Richardson and are continuing to hamper efforts to find her and answer questions about her disappearance.
Mitrice could have been your daughter, sister, aunt, mother, or friend. If the sheriff's did this to Mitrice, imagine who else they've done this too and will do it too unless policies are changed and attention is called to Mitrice Richardson's disappearance.
History has shown that when we collectively ban together as Black people to call attention to an issue, we all win. This is one of those situations that is going to require all of us to do our part. Whether it's downloading and passing out flyers at your job, participating in local search efforts for Mitrice, or calling out the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, now is the time.
We can't afford to solely focus on the LAPD while overlooking the atrocities committed by the sheriff's department on Black people. In other words, Black people, it's time to nut up or shut up.
How to Nut Up
- Visit www.bringmitricehome.org and download flyers to put up at your job, nail shop, carwash, and anywhere else you think people will see it.
- Sign up to receive Twitter updates from the Richardson family directly on the situation.
- Join the Find Mitrice Facebook fan page.
- Add "For the latest information on Mitrice Richardson log onto www.bringmitricehome.org" to your email signature.
- Sign the petition calling for a Federal Investigation into the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's handling of Mitrice Richardson.
- Email the website to your address book and ask others to do steps 1-6.
Based in Los Angeles, at 32, Jasmyne A. Cannick among other things is a syndicated columnist who writes about the intersection of race, politics, and sexuality. She can be reached via her website: www.jasmynecannick.com.