CHICAGO—The end of the year is usually a time for family gatherings and cheer, but that will not be the case for Yohanna Clark and her family. Sadly, she will be burying her daughter after Chicago Police found her body at an apartment on December 14.
According to local news, 15-year-old Amarise Parker was reported missing for the second time this year. Her family, in a news conference, asked for anyone with answers to step forward.
These tragedies, along with many others, are what drives the Illinois Task Force on Missing and Murdered Women, State Representative Kambien Buckner (D-Chicago) told The Final Call. The task force was designed to discover and analyze why Black women and girls go missing and are often murdered at higher rates than any other race in Chicago. It was approved to begin work January 1, 2023. State Rep. Buckner and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) will chair and vice chair the task force, respectively.
“This shouldn’t be just a feel-good show because we are sitting here in the middle of a crisis. There’s a bunch of different entities that are a part of this task force. I don’t think that we have a cut-off of who we can invite,” Rep. Buckner told The Final Call in a phone interview.
Karen Phillips, mother of Kierra Coles who was reported missing nearly five years ago, told The Final Call she believes there needs to be more urgency regarding missing and murdered Black women and girls.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Ms. Coles’ disappearance is an open yet cold case.
“I don’t even know. They don’t call to let me know they have new detectives,” she said referring to her daughter who was three months pregnant and 26 years old at the time of her disappearance. She believes the police department has not done everything they could.
The Chicago Police Department has been criticized before for how it handles missing Black women and girls. A study published by the Invisible Institute and City Bureau on November 13, found that the department “has mistreated family members or delayed cases” and that “poor police data is making the problem harder to solve.”
The Final Call made multiple attempts to contact the Chicago Police Department for comment but did not receive a response.
“Ain’t nobody talking. … I just keep hoping something will come up,” Ms. Phillips said. “The task force wants to [keep] meeting with all the new people, it’s backed up.”
Rep. Buckner understands where Ms. Phillips is coming from. He also believes there should be a sense of urgency for cases such as Ms. Coles’.
“Her [Kierra Coles] story really captured me. …What often happens is that task forces are stood up and they don’t often produce results, so I understand,” State Rep. Buckner continued. “We are only a few months [old] and have met three times.”
Rep. Buckner continued to say putting together a task force and finding people for it takes time.
“We want this to be different, we want this to produce results,” he continued.
State Sen. Hunter said about the task force, “We have met several times and heard testimony from families and experts. It’s incredible the stories people have shared and the outcomes of the research that are out there. Other states have similar task forces that we are looking at, and we are still building the membership of the committee.”
She said one of the entities involved, The University of Chicago Crime Lab, and other organizations “have shown interest in becoming involved.”
“Overall, we need to follow through on these cases and utilize experts and data to address this problem,” she added. The task force is scheduled to meet again in a few months.