Mighty Funny Someone Like Poor Chelsea King Can Get the Cops and the FBI to Hunt for Her and Her Assailant–But Mitrice Richardson Gets No Respect
I’ve been trying not to repeat bad news, but what can I say? Better not have news if it is still bad. As the season for white girls-in-distress seems to reopen, I don’t care if the girl in San Diego was underage and Mitrice was 25 when she disappeared. I just feel the same way as Jasmyne Cannick:
It seems that in order to get the FBI involved in a missing persons case the victim must be the following: white, female, and from a privileged background. Something that 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson isn’t.
When 17-year-old Chelsea King went missing in Poway near San Diego last week after she went for a run and never returned home, she became the subject of an extensive search that not only included local police authorities but the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well.
Soon after the manhunt began, her car was found at the Rancho Bernardo Glassman Community Park with her cell phone, iPod and school clothes inside. DNA on a piece of her clothing found along the southern shore of the lake led to the arrest of John Albert Gardner III, a registered sex offender. Search crews looking in the area near where that article of clothing was found, discovered a body Tuesday in a shallow grave in a tributary about 10 feet from the edge of the water. All of this occurred in the span of five days.
Contrast that with the case of Richardson, a black woman who will be 25 years old on April 30. She has been missing for nearly six months now and the trail is cold.
Despite pleas from her family for the FBI to get involved, to date they have not. Despite pleas to their local congressional representative, Maxine Waters, to step in demand the FBI to get involved, she has not.
Attempts by both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to locate Mitrice have gone stale. Neither agency has had any contact with Michael Richardson, Mitrice’s father, in more than a month.
Yet, when a white teenage girl goes missing, no expense is spared to bring in the appropriate law enforcement agencies to locate her.
What happened to Chelsea King is horrible, and what the King family is going through is something that I don’t wish for any mother and father. However, the disparities between the response to her disappearance and that of Mitrice Richardson’s clearly illustrate, in black and white, the difference in the value of a black woman’s life and that of a white woman.
If local law enforcement agencies, with the help of the FBI, could locate Chelsea King within a week of her disappearance, imagine what they might have accomplished had they put forth the same effort when Mitrice first went missing in September.
Now that the King family has closure, local leaders such as County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Waters, organizations such as the Los Angeles offices of the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and every black church and women’s group must push for the FBI to get involved in the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson. Now.
It’s so freaking obvious. No matter how the authorities try to pretty it up, their actions speak much louder than words.
As a consolation prize, it appears, some legislation called Billy’s Law just cleared in Congress. It’s supposed to provide new guidelines for cops to move forward on cases of adults who disappear without a trace.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who was a sponsor of the bill, said that in Richardson’s case, her family “would be able to access certain information updated by law enforcement and be better-equipped to monitor official activity and contribute to their own findings.”
If a better-coordinated effort had been in place at the time of Richardson’s disappearance, Waters said, “I’m confident that we’d have a better understanding of what happened to Mitrice Richardson.”
But Waters still won’t demand that the Los Angeles FBI to get cracking on what happened with Mitrice, especially since the managing officer that night sequestered important videotapes and then was promoted to captain and moved to another sheriff’s department station.
Meanwhile, Anne Soble of the Malibu Surfside News is still reporting on Mitrice’s case. On February 11, after the disgraceful interview Sheriff Lee Baca and now Captain Tom Martin had with Mitrice’s mother, Latice; her aunt Lauren Sutton, Dr. Ronda Hampton, and a sympathetic family friend Charles Croft was exposed, the Richardson camp responded with the following:
Family members of 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton honor graduate Mitrice Richardson, who now has been missing for over five months, wrote Captain Tom Martin this week, the outgoing head of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, seeking information about videos of her that he said he possesses.
Existence of the videotapes was disclosed at a meeting between these family members, Captain Martin, other Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials, and Sheriff Lee Baca in the sheriff’s office on Jan. 6.
The letter signers […] are critical of the station’s handling of the Richardson’s arrest and release following a dispute over nonpayment of a restaurant check because they believe she was in a state of extreme mental duress, if not illness, when the incident occurred on the evening of Sept. 16.
They believe Richardson should have been held for a “5150” medical evaluation, instead of being released at 12:25 a.m. the next morning alone, on foot, with no money or cell phone (her purse and phone were placed in her impounded vehicle) in the isolated industrial area where the station is located.
In the letter, the four signers wrote: “We would like to follow up with you [because] we are concerned with the fact that the video of Mitrice in the “booking cage” was not revealed to the family, friends and possibly other law enforcement agencies involved in the search for Mitrice.”
They note, “What is most disturbing is that the video was withheld from the family, even after strongly expressing a desire to view any video footage of Mitrice;” and they add, “The [initial] denial of the video makes us suspicious as to what other critical pieces of information are being withheld from the family.”
The letter requests that Captain Martin, “Please contact us regarding some of our concerns—maybe some clarification on these issues will ease our minds.”
Of course, the letter was ignored. And the Malibu City Council awarded Martin with the city’s highest honor, the Malibu Tile at the following council meeting.
When people laud others who may be responsible for the disappearance or possible death of an individual, you know that there is something wrong with this picture. Very wrong. You wonder how they can live with themselves, and then you find that you’ve already answered that question. They can. If Bush did it with his culpable henchmen who are still responsible for war crimes, they are simply taking a page from what happens at the top.
Yet the family presses on.
The missing woman’s mother, Latice Sutton, and other family members and friends are hopeful that approval soon will be granted for the next LASD—and City of Los Angeles Police Department, the lead agency in what is still a missing person case—search to be assisted by a drone from San Diego State University’s Immersive Visualization Center, the Viz Center. The drone is a small unmanned aircraft that takes high resolution video and photos.
According to Charles Croft, a videographer who has been working with the mother’s family, “the [Viz Center] drone has the capability of going down into canyons and can search better than any helicopter. It is not affected by winds as much and can fly extremely low to obtain very high resolution, close-up images and video.”
Croft said the drone, also known as a “bird.” has already been used in a number of missing person searches, and law enforcement “and the drone people are set to use the aircraft soon.” He added, “The drone has discovered people and [skeletal] remains in about seven different instances when large searches failed.”
It would surprise me if the LASD allowed for another search. Baca is adamant about protecting and cosseting his guys, and not even caring about the fate of a young black lesbian woman who was half-crazy wandering about in the wilderness before daylight. He–and others–want to bury this case. He would consider it another waste of money and time. Like I said, if Mitrice had been white and blonde, there wouldn’t be this kind of thing.
He, Captain Martin, and others cannot be allowed to perpetrate this deed. The truth has to come out.
And remember that Change.org petition of over 5,000 signatures to pressure the FBI to get involved in Mitrice Richardson’s case? Latice Sutton has been stymied in her efforts to get the organization to send the petition to the proper authorities. I checked with the website myself, and the petition has disappeared from the list of ongoing causes.
There is no justice yet for Mitrice.