SOUTH SHORE — South Side community organizers are rallying around the family of a 15-year-old girl who escaped an abduction attempt over the weekend, and they are urging city leaders to protect Black girls and women.
The teen was walking Friday near the intersection of 75th Street and Jeffery Boulevard when a woman emerged from the alley with a pipe and put a plastic bag over her head, hitting the girl with the pipe as she attempted to drag her into a waiting car, police told ABC7. The girl managed to break free, and the woman drove off, police said.
No arrests have been made. Police are investigating.
The violence alarmed local leaders who have long grappled with the unsolved murders, disappearances and trafficking of Black women and girls in the South and West sides.
At a news conference Tuesday, Violence Interrupters founder Tio Hardiman; Watch Guard founder Marquinn McDonald; Eric Russell, from the Tree of Life Justice League; LaShawn Littrice, Black Women of Faith founder; and Rabbi Michael Ben Yousef said the recent violence shows the time is now for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, police and the FBI to throw everything they can at the issue.
“We want Jussie Smollett resources,” Russell from the Tree of Life Justice League said Tuesday. “We want the same sort of manpower and video surveillance. We want Smollett-level investigative involvement.”
Hardiman said he has been in contact with the teen and her family, telling Block Club that they are “deeply traumatized” by the attack.
The Chicago Tribune detailed the massive number of women strangled on the South and West sides in a January 2018 investigation. Of the 75 women killed dating back two decades, 51 of the cases were unsolved, according to the Tribune.
The Murder Accountability Project, which uses data to investigate possible links between unsolved crimes, determined in 2019 the collection of killings had “characteristics suggestive of serial murder.” A taskforce between the FBI and Chicago police to explore these cases launched in 2019.
State Rep. Kam Buckner and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush have pushed for a taskforce to investigate the missing women, as well. Rush wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray in July; Buckner sponsored a bill that would examine the root causes of systemic, gender-based violence in the city. While an earlier bill failed to pass the House in 2021, an updated version now awaits Senate approval.
At the city level, Lightfoot announced a $25 million plan in September to combat sex trafficking and intimate partner violence, though some experts criticized the plan for not addressing what the city will do to find its dozens of missing Black women. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office also launched an investigative division last year to reopen missing persons cases, focusing first on women.
In the short term, organizers said they want to see police devote more detectives to investigating these crimes and increase patrols. Community members must play a role, as well, they said. McDonald said his group has stepped up neighborhood patrols, especially keeping an eye on students heading to and from South Shore College Prep High School.
“The reality is that all Black men need to step up to the plate right now. White men, Hispanic men, Asian men … we need all hands on deck in Chicago,” Hardiman said.
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