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Advocates, lawmakers make final push for Governor’s approval of “missing BIPOC women task force”

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CBS6 Albany
Tom Eschen
November 23, 2023

New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed 32 pieces of legislation creating task forces or commissions last week, citing redundancy along with a $35 million dollars cost not accounted for in the Financial Plan.

But, the Governor did not rule out all legislation of that type, as she’s now taking a harder look at other initiatives. A task force investigating missing BIPOC women and girls passed the legislature during the 2023 session, and still has a chance to be approved by Governor Hochul.

“It addresses a problem that is so prevalent in black communities and indigenous communities and of other communities of color,” said Heather Bruegl, an Indigenous Speaker and Advocate. “Our sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers are going missing and nobody seems to want to do anything about it.”

According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, compared to women of other races, American Indian or Alaskan Native women are 135 percent more likely to be listed with unidentified remains.

“The third leading cause of death is murder for indigenous women, which translates to my third leading cause of death, because I am an indigenous person,” Bruegl said.

“That’s really harmful. That plays on your psyche. That plays on your self-esteem and makes you feel unsafe in places where you should feel safe.”

New York State Senator Lea Webb sponsored the legislation, which received unanimous approval, would include nine individuals.

It would include:

  • The Office of Children and Families
  • The Department of Criminal Justice Services
  • The Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence
  • Assembly/Senate Representatives
  • Community Leaders/Organizations

“Sometimes people are categorized as runaways, when in fact they’ve been abducted,” Senator Webb said. “Some have been placed in human trafficking rings. which we know is a global problem.

“The task force will also look at data, even though we have some data, we need more to fully continue to paint the picture so we understand where gaps are, so we can fill those gaps from a resource standpoint.”

250,000 individuals were reported missing in 2020, 40 percent were BIPOC women and girls.

The Black and Missing Foundation and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA are two resources those impacted can use for guidance.

Photo credit: CBS6 Albany

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