PRESS RELEASE…PRESS RELEASE…PRESS RELEASE…PRESS RELEASE…
RE: Death of serial killer Lonnie Franklin
From: The Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders
Contact: Margaret Prescod, 323-646-1269; Nana Gyamfi 323 947 9772; Dr. Chandra Ford 323.505.8510
The Death of a Serial Murderer
We are saddened that Lonnie Franklin died without providing information on the scores of women he killed. Too many families may never see justice. Though he was found guilty and sent to prison, he always maintained his innocence even in the face of the mountain of evidence against him. We don’t yet know the cause of his death, but whatever the cause, family and community members know that there is no chance that he would ever be back on the street.
Some would like to believe that the spirits of his victims haunted Lonnie. Others are saddened by the reality that he could have been so ill and evil to have killed without remorse while carefully covering up his tracks, with no thought even of his own family much less the victims or their loved ones.
The Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders was founded in the mid 1980’s. Since then we have fought to inform the public about the murders, for justice and humanization of the scores of victims. We always said the victims were “Some Mothers Child, Some Father’s Daughter”. Most of them were also mothers, all were struggling with poverty and the reality of what it means to be vulnerable and on the street. That they were impoverished Black women, initially also meant that it took complaints from the community to even have their deaths been seen as a priority by law enforcement, city and county officials.
Where do we go from here?
There are still many Black women missing in South LA who maybe presumed killed, and several of those likely by Lonnie Franklin.
There are still many Black women missing in South LA who maybe presumed killed, and several of those likely by Lonnie Franklin. There are also other serial killers that haunted the similar turf as Lonnie including Chester Turner, indeed just recently Turner was named as responsible for the murder of another victim who died years ago. We continue to call on LAPD to ensure that these disappearances are a priority and that a Task Force on Missing Women be established. As it stands now, the cases are being investigated in by cold case units.
Additionally, we know that family members who were impacted were short changed when it comes to victims compensation, given the California regulation only overturned a few years ago after efforts by the USPROStitutes Collective with the support of the ACLU and others. The regulation had previously established that sex workers were not eligible for victims compensation. While we never accepted that all the serial murder victims were sex workers, nevertheless we question whether California regulations at the time limited the compensation their families should have rightfully gotten. The murders tore families apart, leaving children without mothers, leaving grandmothers and other family members to raise children while receiving no support. The emotional and financial toll the murders were on families cannot be quantified, but not being discriminated against in victims compensation would at least offer some assistance.
In the early and subsequent period of the serial murder series, and yes there were a series, the most well- known being the Grim Sleeper Lonnie Franklin series, there were outrageous mistakes resulting from racism, neglect and the fact that the victims were criminalized. Also, the victims did not get the level of press that similar white victims received. There has to be accountability of why this happened, what went wrong, what mistakes were made that likely allowed these killing sprees to continue unabated for decades. We want a full investigation.
The conditions that led to the vulnerability of the victims still exist today. Poverty and criminalization. The fact that sex work is a crime means that violent men, including serial murders and kidnappers, know that their victims will not only be easy prey, but also will not be a priority for law enforcement and the media, so they are more likely to get away with it. Every Black person knows that the murders of these women did not receive the priority or coverage than when one white college student goes missing. The devaluation of the lives of some of us going back to the colonization of Indigenous peoples and to slavery sadly continues to be a reality. These conditions and devaluation have been referred to as a public health crisis by the Center for the Study of Racism and Health at UCLA. We couldn’t agree more.
And with community support we are working to establish a permanent memorial for the victims in a public park in LA County in the area where many of the victims were killed. There are two finalists that have been selected to submit proposals by the end of this week for their vision of the memorial. The memorial project is entitled ROSESouthLA (Reclaiming Our Sisters Everywhere/LA) www.rosesouthla.org . We are pleased to be joined in this effort by the South LA based A New Way of Life, founded by Susan Burton who has received many awards for her work, including the CNN hero award. And most recently at the LA International Women’s Day event that was held on March 7th in South LA, family members and supporters of the South LA Black women serial murder victims, stood alongside their counterparts from the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in a moving ceremony to lift up the scores of lives lost. To pledge solidarity between the two communities, and to lift up and honor the families left behind.
As we move forward from the death of Lonnie Franklin, we must never forget the other victims where justice has yet to be served and also Lonnie’s victims, the family members whose lives he traumatized, and the larger community who are saying his victims may be gone but they will never be forgotten.