FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Press Release: Push to Properly Classify and Solve #MMIWG Murders in Lumberton, NC
Raleigh, NC – May 4, 2020 – May 5 is National Day of Action for MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) and we have some big problems in Lumberton, NC.
The murders of the 3 women in 2017 are still not classified as homicides by the Lumberton Police Department. This was confirmed again in April 2020. All 3 women were found naked within a 4 block radius. Rhonda Price and Christina Bennett were found on the same day, Apr 18, 2017. The 3rd woman, Megan Oxendine, knew the first 2 women and had been interviewed about their murders in April 2017. Oxendine was murdered on Jun 3, 2017. In 2019, another shocking fact was revealed – the rape kits sat untested for over a year and a half!
Since then, according to “Families demand justice for Rhonda Jones, other murdered indigenous women,” 4/28/20, Daily Kos, “[Rhonda Jones’ mother, Shelia] Price and other members of the advocacy group Shatter the Silence say they’ve encountered death threats in pursuit of critical information about their loved ones’ cold cases. Three years after Jones’ death, local police report they still receive tips, but have made no progress in officially classifying her death as a murder.”
“Considering the circumstances, with one woman even being found naked and upside down in a trash can, what could it be besides murder?” said NC NOW President, Gailya Paliga.
These three women are not the only victims. “Price offered a binder with tabs that list more than 30 missing and murdered people in the heart of North Carolina’s Indian Country. “
The families of these and other victims were able to speak out at an online rally that focused on #MMIWG on Saturday, April 25th, 2020. You can see the agenda and watch the rally at “Online #MMIWGP Rally Agenda – 4/25/20.”
Due to the absence of consistent, standardized reporting on the issue, researchers have been prevented from gaining a true understanding of this epidemic. This rally highlighted how poor data collection, lack of prosecution, and institutional/systemic racism have become ingrained and are contributing factors in the neglect of Native American Communities in NC.
In 2018, the United States declared May 5th the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls making this the perfect day to focus more attention on these murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
On May 5th, 2020, “Shatter The Silence” is driving a Facebook Campaign to Honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on this nationally recognized day. According to the post, “To honor victims, survivors, and their families, participants in the campaign have been asked to hang a red dress, shirt, or other article of red clothing in their window or outside of their homes.”
“As part of the Facebook campaign, participants are being asked to post a picture of themselves in red using the hashtag #MMIWGDAY.“
The media can help get these murders properly classified and solved by giving them the coverage they deserve.