The legacy of the Atlanta Police Department’s lack of care for missing young Black people has a long history that is best highlighted in the current HBO series Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered. While Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields are attempting to rectify these haunting mistakes 40 years later with new investigations, those failures are ever present.
One recent case that called attention to the systemic failures of multiple institutions — and their propensity for finger-pointing — is that of Alexis Crawford.
A senior at Clark Atlanta University, Alexis “Lex” Crawford, 21, was a criminal justice major living with her friend and roommate, Jordyn Jones, in 2019. Though many close friends knew the two women had issues within their friendship, they spent homecoming celebrating and socializing together as the fall semester came to a close. However, their seeming reconciliation was short-lived. On October 26, the two had a falling out that, it was later discovered, had deadly implications. Shortly after their altercation, Crawford went missing. Her body was found a week later, on November 8, in Exchange Park.
In Atlanta, missing Black women and girls are a regular occurrence. Just days after Crawford’s disappearance, a young woman named Lateisha Edwards went missing for seven days. Luckily, she was found and returned home safely, but there are still thousands of cases of Black women who are listed as missing or runaways in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that remain unsolved.
Search parties for Crawford across southwest Atlanta were led by friends and family who felt like the Atlanta Police Department was not taking Crawford’s disappearance seriously. “If we the citizens have to be detectives and mentors and have to do the forensic files, then that’s what we’re gonna do,” said Sabrina Peterson, a local activist and mentor who spearheaded the search for Crawford in early November. Dozens of volunteers from all across Atlanta gathered, looking for any clues that could help locate Crawford’s whereabouts. While searches continued up until November 7, many were still hopeful that…