I get so excited when I see young people out here making an early mark on this tarnished era. An era of hatred, racism, violence, mental illness and poverty. If we can get at least 4 of these young members of the publication Kansas City Defender to reach just one third of the issues. Then maybe, just maybe a difference can be made. Editor of Argus St. Louis.
Originally Published on What I am Reading:
Christina Carrega of Capital B interviewed Ryan Sorrell, founder of The Kansas City Defender, a nonprofit Black news publication whose reporting on missing Black women gained national attention after police first dismissed it. In the interview, Sorrell explains why Black newsrooms dedicated to Black issues are as crucial as ever.
Kansas City Police Dismissed a Black News Site’s Reports of Missing Women. Then One Showed Up.
For more than a month, a 22-year-old Black woman was allegedly held hostage inside a makeshift room in the basement of an Excelsior Springs, Missouri, home. Bound with handcuffs, gagged by duct tape and a metal collar with a padlock around her neck, she was repeatedly raped and whipped by her kidnapper, according to court documents.
During that time, community activist, Bishop Tony Caldwell, posted a video on Facebook accusing elected officials and law enforcement of ignoring signs of a “serial killer on the loose.” Three Black women had gone missing within a week, he said, but no one was looking for them. The Kansas City Defender, a nonprofit Black news publication, republished the video on its TikTok account. “Given the very serious nature of the matter we believe it is critical to report this,” wrote the publication, adding a disclaimer that they were working to confirm the details of the video.
The Kansas City Police Department rebutted the claims in the video with a lengthy statement that said it didn’t have any reports of “missing persons, more specifically black [sp.] women, missing from Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.”
Less than two weeks later, a barely clothed woman appeared at a home on Don Shelton Boulevard wearing a trash bag, a metal collar with a padlock, and duct tape around her neck, according to court documents. She told police that she had been picked up by Timothy M. Haslett Jr., a 40-year-old white man, on Prospect Avenue in early September, and held in a basement room where Haslett had tied her up and tortured her. She told police that Haslett killed two of her friends, The Washington Post reported.