Local government leaders push Hochul to create task force for missing people of color

Letter sent to Gov Hochul urging for creation of a task force

Letter sent to Gov Hochul urging for creation of a task force

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A letter with nearly 70 signatures, including local government leaders and a variety of Rochester area community organizations, was sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul this week, urging her to sign legislation to create a task force on missing black, indigenous, women and girls of color.  

The task force legislation for missing girls of color passed the State senate back in May. However, it’s been waiting for the governor’s signature to become law.

After the recent case of 16-year-old Jakarah Lopez-Moore who was found dead, these local leaders say this needs to be passed quickly as possible.

“Do we really need to look at this system? And that’s what this taskforce will do. Look at this amber alert system and our other systems that help to find children and say why are we failing so many. Why are we not finding these kids before they are in harm’s way,” says Assemblymember for District 136 Sarah Clark.

Clark represents Irondequoit, Brighton, and parts of the City of Rochester. She came up with the idea along with New York Senator Samra Brouk to send the governor a letter and include a show of support from other government leaders, to urge her to sign the bill into law before the end of the year.

“We heard about so many more missing children across Rochester — most of them black and brown children of color. We were just, like, ‘The system is not working. What can we do,’” Clark said.

According to RPD, there are currently 91 missing people in the city, and 46 of them are children. Now there is an urgent push by local senators, legislators, councilmembers and assembly members to get Governor Hochul to pass a task force bill on missing women and girls — especially black-indigenous and people of color. Clark signed the letter in support of the taskforce.

“When we look at the Amber Alert system and systems that notify us of missing children and there’s this caveat that if you are classified as a runaway, you can’t necessarily get the amber alert sent out for you. As a mom, does it really matter why a child is missing? Shouldn’t we try to find them all regardless of the reason,” Clark said.

Monroe County Legislator, Mercedes Vazquez Simmons represents the City’s northeast district 22, where 16-year-old Jakarah Lopez-Moore lived before she went missing and was found dead several weeks later.

She explains that, statically, cases of black and brown women and girls are often treated with less urgency, care, and attention than other cases.

According to the FBI National Crime Information Center database there at 546,568 people reported missing in 2022 in the Unites States. Those are the latest numbers.

Nearly 40% of them are persons of color, yet people of color make up about 13% of the population.

The BIPOC task force bill will develop policy changes that will work to address this issue. That’s why Vazquez Simmons is advocating for the task force.

“We never want to see our young people be in this situation. No parent should have to go through this. No family should have to go through this. No community should have to go through this. So, there is preventative action that we should be taking. This taskforce is the beginning,” Vazquez Simmons said.

Local government leaders are trying to create overwhelming support for this bill so governor Hochul can sign it before the end of the year, if not, they will lose it.

If Hochul does sign it, it will go into effect 60 days after.