Family and friends of 16 year old Black lesbian Mikayla Miller, whose body was found in the woods in Massachusetts on the April 17, are seeking justice after the police failed in their investigation.
Despite Miller’s body being found by a jogger – bound to a tree with a leather belt around her neck – police first ruled that her death was by suicide.
Just 12 hours before her body was found, Miller’s mother Calvina Strothers had called police after her daughter was assaulted in her apartment building by a group of white youths. During this altercation Miller alleged she was punched in the face and had a bloody lip.
Despite police having visited the home of one of the individuals involved in the alleged altercation and obtaining a statement from two of those involved, no charges were laid.
Police Threatened To Out Victim
Her mother was then refused copies of the files on both the assault and the discovery of Miller’s body when she requested them almost a week later. It then took District Attorney Marian Ryan 12 days to contact her.
“Instead of answers, the response from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, State Police, and the Hopkinton Police has been the exact opposite,” the victim’s mother, Calvina Strothers, wrote in a message on GoFundMe.
“Disrespect, slammed doors, misdirection, glaring inconsistencies, extreme confusion, and ultimately, silence.”
When they did eventually receive the files, the family noted how official logs were missing for both the April 17 assault and the April 18 discovery of Mikayla’s body.
When challenged by the family on both points, investigators then threatened the family with publicizing Miller’s sexuality if they were to go public with these concerns.
District Attorney Denies Racism Allegations
Millers’ family claimed this is yet another example of police failing to properly investigate the death of a black victim. Under mounting public scrutiny, DA Ryan finally admitted that her office had in fact determined that Miller was the victim of a crime, promised information would be released “as soon as legally feasible.”
However, adding further insult to injury, DA Ryan’s office went on to claim that the community’s complaints that the investigation was tainted by racism were “patently false.”
However, many are not convinced, with David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a written statement: “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 weaponize Mikayla’s sexuality in addition to abdicating the responsibility they have to investigate her murder saddens and enrages me.”
Justice For Mikayla Miller
Speaking at a vigil for Miller held on May 6th, Strothers said that she is not a “vigilante” — she just wants justice for her daughter.
“I don’t want to have to spend all day on the phone getting and passing along evidence in order for justice to be served,” Strothers said during the rally. “What I want is for the criminal justice system to work.”
Black community organisers advocating for Mikayla and her family have pointed to the long history of racist policing, emphasise that if roles were reversed, with a high profile white victim, the result of the investigation and the actions of police, would have been very different.
Supporters are calling for a FBI investigation into the suspicious death.