Missing in Louisiana: Help Us Find Us
What would you do if your child or your best friend in the world is missing? But, no one seems to care but you.
What would you do if your child or your best friend in the world is missing?
But, no one seems to care but you.
This is the impossible but true situation for hundreds of thousands missing people nation wide. It is especially true for the families of the more than 200 people missing in Louisiana.
Why do some stories splash news headlines for months, while others get a post on social media then simply disappear? And how do we change it?
These questions have been prodded in community forums, virtual discussions, novels, newscasts and even movies with little to no solutions. In Monday’s Not Coming, critically-acclaimed novelist Tiffany D. Jackson weaves a tale of mystery and breathtaking suspense, forcing us to take a long, hard look at society. So does the newly released HBO docuseries “Black and Missing” which looks at the ongoing work of the same named, national nonprofit that brings awareness to missing persons of color. The series has been nominated to receive the NAACP Image Award for outstanding directing.
The 14-year-old nonprofit Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. provides vital resources and tools to the families and friends of missing persons and educates the minority community on personal safety. According to the Foundation, nearly 40 percent of missing persons are persons of color, yet Black Americans make up only 13 percent of the population.
Cases of missing Black people remain unresolved four times longer than white people. By following BAMFI founders Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson—who are sisters in law—the docuseries shows how systemic behaviours and attitudes stem from centuries of deeply rooted racism.
“We need to change how these cases are classified,” said Derrica Wilson, who is a former law enforcement officer. “Typically when people of color go missing—Black or brown, male or female—their cases are oftentimes associated with some kind of criminal activity, and it really doesn’t create a sense of urgency.”
Black missing children are often labelled as runaways. “And they are not receiving the Amber Alert and there’s not enough resources dedicated to those case…every case should be taken seriously,” said Wilson, who’s foundation continues to provide hope to families.
Nationwide, Black media has partnered with the foundation to bring attention to missing cases. Soledad O’Brien on Matter of Fact TV and the National Newspapers Publisher’s BlackPressUSA.com has featured national missing persons cases.
Earlier this month on Twitter, the Black News Channel featured the story of Tabitha Queen, 30, who has been missing from Bastrop, Louisiana, since May 10, 2021 under suspicious circumstances. Queen left her residence at approximately 11 am to go to a Save-U-More grocery store. Her vehicle was found abandoned on West Pine Street in Bastrop and her three children were left at home alone. Queen was 5'4" and weighed 230 pounds when she vanished. She has a tattoo of the name 'Legend' on her chest, a scar on left arm, and tattoos of stars on an arm.
According to Wilson, “it’s an uphill battle to get law enforcement to take on cases.” However, media coverage helps pressure law enforcement to apply more resources to finding people of color. “Our community will not continue to sit back and be quiet about this issue,” Wilson said. “We have to speak up. We have to unite our families and bring (missing persons) home.”
In Louisiana, 266 people are missing according to the World Population Review. https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/missing-persons-by-state
This number may not include many many children and teenagers who can easily go unaccounted while in social service systems, foster care, custody battles, or kindred care. Within 48 hours of a child or teen going missing, 1 in 3 are solicited for sex.
According to the executive director of Louisiana’s Office of Human Trafficking Prevention, Dana Hunter, PhD, “human trafficking is an under-identified crime. Victims are often coerced and fly under the radar. Missing children often fall in the same category and go under-identified and under reported. As a result, the two are closely related and victims who are missing become most vulnerable to traffickers (often because) traffickers present ways to meet their basic needs as stated in Maslow’s hierarchy.”
She explained, “these youth and young adults and adults often fall through the cracks because the traffickers have ways to threaten them and keep them from being identified. They train them on how to behave while in public.”
On Jan. 26, Hunter’s office and Gov. John Bel Edwards launched the state’s human trafficking resource center. It is a web-based statewide directory that provides information about human trafficking, survivor services, prevention resources, educational materials, and ways to report suspicious activity.
This launch came one month after five teenagers who were missing and endangered were found as part of a sex offender operation in the New Orleans area, federal law enforcement officials said. The U.S. Marshals Service said 30 people were arrested, including 17 registered sex offenders, as part of "Operation Boo Dat." The joint operation ran from mid-October to Dec. 24 and included several area law enforcement agencies, officials said.
“For more missing people and trafficking victims to be identified, we need to educate and train our key professionals on what to look for. Train and educate law enforcement, hospital staff, school teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and more,” Hunter said.
By Candace J. Semien
Jozef Syndicate reporter
Here are resources to help report and find missing persons or trafficking victims:
REPORT OR FIND A MISSING PERSON
It is a myth that you must wait a certain amount of time before reporting a missing person. You can file a report as soon as the person is confirmed missing. Collect as much of the following information as possible about the missing person before you call 911 or contact your local law enforcement. You do not need all of this information to file a report.
Full and legal name
Birthdate and Age
Height and weight
Hair and eye color
Date of last contact, place last seen, and clothing last seen wearing
Details of the disappearance
Identifying features: tattoos, scars, previous injuries/surgeries, etc.
Name and contact of missing person’s dentist and/or doctor
To report an immediate emergency. Make sure that you file a report with the police agency in the location that the person went missing.
Call the Louisiana State Police 24/7 Hotline at 800-434-8007
BLACK AND MISSING
https://www.blackandmissinginc.com/report/ to complete a form requesting a physical description of the missing person, as well as current information about you and the investigating law enforcement agency. All profile submissions will undergo a rigorous review process before being published. This includes confirmation from the police or investigating agency and verification of the case number. This is to ensure credibility of the Black and Missing Foundation and integrity of the data being reported. Every Tuesday they post on social media an unidentified person case from National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. It will be an image of the face, belongings found with him/her, or an aged-progression image.
The LA Repository for Missing and Unidentified Persons Information Program
The LA Repository for Missing and Unidentified Persons Information Program website, also known as the LSU FACES Lab provides a way to search Louisiana's database of missing and unidentified people.
REPORT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
The Louisiana human trafficking resource center has established an online form to file a report of suspicious or criminal activity at https://dpsweb.dps.louisiana.gov/suspicious.nsf/WebForm?OpenForm The complaint system is processed during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. In the event it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or the state police hotline at 800-434-8007. Complaints filed via this web site are processed and may be referred to law enforcement/regulatory agencies for investigation.The confidentiality of the information you provide may be affected by differing state and federal laws. As such, we cannot guarantee that your complaint will remain confidential. Providing false information could make you subject to fine, imprisonment, or both.
To report a sexually exploited or abused minor
Call the Louisiana State Police Hotline at 800-434-8007
Contact DCFS Child Abuse Hotline at 855-452-5437
Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hotline at 800-843-5678
A family survival guide “When Your Child is Missing” https://www.blackandmissinginc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/DOJ-When-Your-Child-is-Missing.pdf
What to do if Your Child Goes Missing: The First 24 Hours https://www.freepeoplesearch.org/resources/missing-kids/
Black and Missing https://www.blackandmissinginc.com/resources/ Follow #HelpUsFindUs and #BlackandMissing to follow cases.
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