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Lightfoot Says Chicago 'Must Do Better' Finding Missing Black Women And Girls, Whose Cases Are Disproportionately Ignored

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Missing Black women and girls are disproportionately ignored, and Saturday it was the focus of a caucus led by Congresswoman Robin Kelly.

It's an issue CBS 2 has been dedicated to and highlighted for years.

The forum explored the ways that Black women and girls go missing at higher rates than White women and how their cases are less likely to be solved and less likely to receive media attention.

The most powerful voices for the voiceless -- missing victims -- are their family members pleading for real action, real movement in their loved ones' cases.

Tionda and Diamond Bradley went missing almost 21 years ago. Their aunt has fought for them to come home every day since.

"I need to see boots on the ground," said Sheila Bradley Smith. "Not just for Tionda and Diamond but for all these missing women and children. People don't seem to care until it happens to them Its been 21 years of nothing but pure hell, clanging, all kind of making noise, trying to get help for them, roadblocks."

They were 10 and 3 years old at the time. An age progression of the two sisters put out on the 20th anniversary of their disappearance shows what they might look like now.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who joined the conference, admitted Chicago has not done its part to help.

"And in Chicago we just have to be honest and say we don't have a good track record when it comes to finding missing Black women and girls, supporting families and survivors, solving homicides relating to Black women," she said. "We absolutely must do better."

The National Crime Information Center reports more than 90,000 Black women and girls were reported missing across the United States in 2020. The congressional caucus said that number went up in 2021 to about 100,000.

Karen Phillips' daughter Kierra Coles was pregnant when she went missing in 2018.

"Because she's the color she is, that evidence don't mean nothing," said Phillips. "Did she have her baby? I wasn't there. I was with all my girls when they had their kids."

She said the Chicago Police Department has not answered her requests for information in two years.

"Every time they call, they're on vacation. They have more vacation than anyone that I know," she said.

The mayor made a promise Saturday, saying, "You will get a call from the chief of detectives this weekend."

CBS 2 will follow up with PHillips to see if the mayor delivers that promise.

For Chicago-specific data, CBS 2 submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request about the number of women who went missing in 2020 and 2021, and will be following up with than information as well.

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