On July 6, 2001, three-year-old Diamond and ten-year-old Tionda Bradley vanished. Pictures of the missing sisters were featured all over the news. That was almost twenty years ago. In October of 2018, 27-year-old, Kierra Coles, a postal worker and three months pregnant, mysteriously disappeared after leaving her apartment on Chicago’s South Side. Also, in Chicago, and more recently, 32-year-old Casey Farley and her two children, Zaima and Soraya Muhammad, went missing and were last seen on January 3, 2020.
Disappearing while black is not an issue confined to Chicago. It is a nationwide problem that garners limited attention. Natalie Wilson is the Co-Founder and Director of Public Relations of Black & Missing Foundation Inc. BAMFI. The non-profit organization based out of Maryland has been helping to search for missing persons since 2008. The mission of BAMFI is to increase the awareness and exposure of missing persons of color; assist in finding missing minorities – adults and children; and to educate the minority community on personal safety.
In speaking about the families BAMFI has tried to help over the years, Wilson says, “They don’t know what to do. We are their last hope.” While interacting with families nationwide, Ms. Wilson states, “There is an uptick in persons missing from urban areas such as Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore.”
The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database listed 424,066 missing children under 18 in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. About 37 percent of those children are black, even though black children only make up about 14% of all children in the United States. The news media vastly underreports missing minorities.
Wilson noted, “We also noted that a lot of African-American children that go missing are initially classified as runaways. They do not get an Amber Alert or media coverage.”
The lack of alerts and coverage is extremely problematic for missing children and the loved ones searching for them. Wilson explained, “Even if they are runaways, we have to find them within the first 48 hours because we need to understand why they ran away and realize that many are lured into sex trafficking,”
According to law enforcement, the disappearance of Diamond and Tionda Bradley is now a cold case. The investigations of Kierra Coles and Casey Farley and her two children are ongoing.