MASSACHUSETTS The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) mourns the loss of Mikayla Miller, a Black 16-year-old girl and member of the LGBTQ+ community. Miller was found dead on April 18th in Hopkinton, Massachusetts one day after her mother, Calvina Strothers, said she was jumped by a group of five white teenagers.
According to Strothers, the police showed little interest in investigating Mikayla's death and threatened Strothers with exposing her daughter's sexuality publically if she reported the matter to the media. Strothers emphasized that a case involving a white child in Mikayla's position would have received immediate attention.
Yesterday, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan held a press conference stating that Mikayla Miller's cause of death had not been determined and that the investigation into both Miller's death and her assault the day before is ongoing. Ryan denied the case was neglected because of Miller's race or sexuality.
Miller was a gifted student and talented athlete who dreamed of attending a historically Black college or university (HBCU) and becoming a journalist. She has been described as beautiful, passionate and a loving daughter, sister, cousin, niece and friend.
A candlelight vigil and rally demanding answers and accountability from District Attorney Ryan will be held on Thursday, May 6th at 4:30pm in Hopkinton, where Mikayla's family members plan to speak.
"The way that we come into our sexual identities is deeply personal and young people in particular deserve the protection and support required to find complete comfort in who they are and how they show up in the world. The fact that police officers potentially sought to weapoinze Mikayla's sexuality in addition to abdicating the responsibility they have to investigage her murder saddens and enrages me," said David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, a leading national civil rights organization. "Children do not ask to be born, in whatever beautiful way they are born, and we owe it to them to ensure they feel safe and protected. We failed Mikayla and too many other Black LGBTQ+/SGL children who worry that they may become victims of state sanctioned violence. It is my expectation that every company and compassionate adult who has aligned themselvs with the global movement for Black lives is meaningfully engaged in the effort to ensure that those responsible for the murder of Mikayla are held accountable."
"Since reading this story I haven't been able to shake my grief. Mikayla Miller reminds me so much of myself at her age. Out with friends, living in a neighborhood with few Black people, and hoping to attend Spelman or Howard" said Victoria Kirby York, deputy executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. "Only, Mikayla will never have the opportunity to live the rest of her life. The description of the events leading up to her death - being chased by a mob of her peers and hung from a tree - is more than a tragedy, it's a nightmare. The cover-up from local police weaponizing her sexuality to prevent media attention instead of holding the people responsible accountable is just as terrifying. These officers care more about protecting the lives of the teens who tortured and murdered Mikayla Miller than the life they stole."
"Mikayla called the police for help after being chased by a mob to no avail. Weeks have gone by with zero action. This is a shameful and disturbing reality that Black people are forced to reckon with on a daily basis. Mikayla deserved so much better," Kirby York concluded.
Since Mikayla Miller's murder, Monica Cannon-Grant, CEO and founder of Violence in Boston, has called for an independent investigation into her death.
To learn more about reducing gender based violence, look here nbjc.org/ .
To learn more about changing local laws and increasing protections for trans and non-binary community members, look here prosperitynow.org/putting-prosperity-within-reach-how-do-i-advocate-for-policy-change .
The NBJC Stolen Lives list of trans and non-binary individuals killed by violence and hate can be found here.
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is America's leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) people, including people living with HIV.