San Francisco Department on the Status of Women
Leaders from the Indigenous community, families of victims, domestic violence advocates, and City of San Francisco representatives joined at sundown to light City Hall red in honor of lives lost to the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Two-Spirit Relatives (MMIW+/MMIR)
Members of the Indigenous community, alongside non-Indigenous allies, gathered in loving remembrance of Jessica Alva, Veronica Solis, Nicole Smith, Angela McConnell, and all survivors of domestic violence and families of victims who have not had resources allocated for investigating and prosecuting crimes against their Indigenous relatives due to racial disparities at the local, state, and national levels.
National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Awareness Day on May 5th marked more than two years since the tragic passing of Jessica Alva and more than three years since the passing of Angela McConnell.
“Jessica Alva advocated for protection of MMIW+ while she was an active intertribal community member. As friends and loved ones gather in honor and remembrance of her, we have a responsibility to advocate for the safety and protection of all of our Indigenous relatives. This is how we honor Jessica and all of our murdered and stolen relatives. The City and County of San Francisco must acknowledge that this epidemic of violence against our Native sisters is linked to a history of settler colonialism in California. Tragically, California has the 5th highest number of MMIW+ cases nationally, two thirds of which occurred in Northern California,” stated Morning Star Gali, Project Director with indigenousjustice.org.
“We are losing vital members of the community. Missing and murdered Indigenous women's lives are sacred, and all deaths and cases of missing women and girls must be fully investigated. This must end. We all must take Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to heart,” said Beverly Upton, Executive Director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium.
There is a long history of misclassifying and improperly handling cases concerning MMIWG2+. California has the highest rate of racial misclassification of missing persons in the CA Office of the Attorney General’s missing persons database, where 56% of Indigenous women and girls are listed as the wrong race. The report found that in Northern California, 37% of known cases were misclassified as suicide, undetermined, or accidental.
“California is home to the one of the largest holocausts in history that people refuse to acknowledge called the "Gold Rush." Our state gave white settlers permission to kidnap, traffic and enslave American Indian women and children also known as MMIWP. Judge Hastings, which University of California Hastings College of San Francisco is named after, and where our Vice President Harris attended, is responsible for the hanging of 500 Yuki men, my relatives — who were traditional knowledge keepers and protectors for our people. In San Francisco, our Ohlone relatives were also sold, enslaved, starved, and murdered right here at Mission Dolores. We live in one of the wealthiest cities in the world and people have become rich by the murder of Indigenous people of San Francisco. Yet today American Indians are still oppressed and silenced with systemic oppression. Where is the reparation for American Indian families of our MMIWP?” said April McGill, Director of Community Partnerships & Projects, California Consortium for Urban Indian Health.
“We must work with communities that are hardest hit by MMIW+/R. Additionally, San Francisco is among the top 10 cities in the nation with the highest number of MMIW+/R cases. As a city we need to do better in supporting our women, our families, and our direct service providers who work around the clock to save lives,” stated Kimberly Ellis, Director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women.
“As men we need to give up power and embrace responsibility,” said George Galvis, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ).
Nationally, attention has started to be given to the issue of MMIWG2+. Just last month, Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, announced the creation of a New Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services to investigate the epidemic of MMIWG2+. Other cities and neighbors across the state also held events to honor MMIWG2+ yesterday.
Against the backdrop of a City Hall glowing red, Indigenous dancers, drummers, and The Red Lightning Women Singers group came together to underscore the importance of healing in the pursuit of justice for women, families, and for a community seeking to break the cycle of domestic violence in San Francisco.
The event was co-sponsored by Restoring Justice for Indigenous Peoples, San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, American Indian Cultural District of San Francisco, American Indian Cultural Center of San Francisco, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, and Native Sisters Circle.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence, or concerned for a loved one and need assistance, please contact:
- If it is an emergency, please call 911.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- StrongHearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483
- CalHOPE Red Line: Call: 1-888-368-4090, Text: 916-252-5002
- W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Crisis Line: 415-864-4722
- La Casa de las Madres: Adult Line 1-877-503-1850, Teen Line 1-877-923-0700
- Asian Women’s Shelter Crisis Line: 1-877-751-0880
- Saint Vincent de Paul Society – Riley Center Crisis Line: 415-255-0165
- Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (APILO) – 415-567-6255
Local resources for survivors of domestic violence can be found at: https://sfgov.org/dosw/violence-against-women-prevention-and-intervention-grants-program-0