The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a motion, introduced in January in response to the killing of 16-year-old Tioni Theus, that seeks an equity analysis of violence and crime targeting Black women and girls, how the cases are handled and the rate at which they are solved.
The motion was introduced by Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price on Jan. 26, more than two weeks after Tioni’s body was found on the side of the Harbor (110) Freeway on the Manchester Avenue on-ramp near South Figueroa Street.
Tioni had last been seen Jan. 7 after telling a family member she was going to meet a friend to go to a party, officials said.
“For the Theus family, it’s been an eternal nightmare that they will never wake up from,” Price said before Tuesday’s vote. “The cries of the community have called on us to be the voice for a young girl, a child, who had her life stolen away in the most horrific way possible.”
The motion requested that the city’s Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department and police department make recommendations to improve equity and justice for all crime victims.
The equity analysis will include information on violence and crime experienced by Black women and girls in Los Angeles, the rate at which homicides and violent crime against Black women and girls are solved, how missing persons cases involving Black women and girls are handled and policy recommendations to increase equity and justice for victims and their families.
“Once the findings are published, our hopes are that the recommendations will go on to spur policy changes for not only Los Angeles, but nationwide, and to achieve the equity and justice for all Black women and Black girls, so they do not become another forgotten headline,” Price said.
The councilmen note in their motion that it took nearly two weeks after Tioni’s death before any requests were made for public help finding her killer.
“While violent crime against any individual, regardless of race or gender, is a terrible tragedy, deep inequities exist in the violence and crime Black women and girls face, the way in which those crimes are covered in the media, and in turn, the way in which society perceives and responds to the problem,” according to the motion.
“Tioni Theus, and all Black women and girls who have been the victims of violent crime, deserve our attention, compassion and the swift and urgent pursuit of justice,” it continues.
The motion cited a 2016 Northwestern Law Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology study that found that missing person cases involving Black people make up about one-fifth of such reports in the mainstream media, even though they make up one-third of all missing-person cases reported to the FBI.
About 34% of missing girls and women in 2020 were Black, despite Black girls and women being only about 15% of the U.S. female population, the motion added, citing the National Crime Information Center.
A suspect in Tioni’s killing has not been identified. The city of Los Angeles and the state each offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest and conviction, while the county offered $20,000.