On March 23, the body of social justice activist Amber Evans was pulled from the Scioto River in Ohio. She had been missing since January 28, 2019.
Evans was well known in the city and was active in the community and social justice organizations. Her main involvement was with the People’s Justice Project; an organization that works to “confront police violence, end mass incarceration, and promote safety and health in our communities.”
On January 28, Amber went to work as normal and was last seen by coworkers at 5:30 pm. However, later that evening, her car and phone were found on different ends of the Scioto Mile.
Evans had gotten into a spat with her longtime boyfriend earlier that day. However, the police department has found no past claims of domestic violence and say claim that he has been incredibly cooperative throughout the investigation. So, at this particular moment, he’s hasn’t been named a suspect.
Besides black social justice websites and Ohio news outlets, the death of Evans hasn’t exactly made national headlines. When looked at face value, it shouldn’t. She was a missing person in Ohio. Unless the victim or suspect has crossed state lines, we don’t really hear about missing person reports. She could have committed suicide for all we know. But the news of her death struck me as odd.
Over the past few months, I’ve been paying close attention to the news out of Ferguson, Missouri. Almost five years ago, 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer. The officer was found not guilty, which caused protests, riots, and the start of the “hands up don’t shoot” movement. In these five years, six men, who like Evans were active members in the community and a part of the Ferguson protests have died. One by one.
The Black Lives Matter organization has to be one of the most misunderstood groups, with their message getting misconstrued by people who just don’t want to listen. The most recent death to come out of Ferguson was that of protestor Bassem Masri (31 years old) in November. The Palestinian American was found on a bus and his cause of death was a heart attack from a fentanyl overdose. The activist was known in the community for live-streaming protests and demonstrations throughout Ferguson.
In 2014, a few months after the grand jury decided not to prosecute Brown’s killer, the body of Deandre Joshua (20 years old) was found in his car just blocks from the protest site. He was shot in the head and his car was burned. Two years later, Darren Seals (29 years old) was also shot and found inside a burning car.
And then there’s MarShawn McCarrell (27 years old) and Edward Crawford Jr. (27 years old), who both died by apparent suicides from gunshot wounds. Another activist, Danye Jones (24 years old) was found hanging from a tree outside his house. The police have also ruled it death by suicide but his mother is convinced her son was lynched.
Suicide is a plausible cause. The life of an activist is stressful and takes a toll on your mental health. Especially when you’re fighting a fight that seems too difficult to win. But I have a hard time believing that, especially in a city that’s so riddled with racial tension. Since Brown’s death, the relationship between activists and the police have only gotten more intense. So, while the police are still investigating, it’s safe to say that these deaths might not be at the top of the department’s list.
Speaking to CBS, Cori Bush, the leader of many Ferguson protests, said that activists have been targets of threats and intimidation.
“I’ve been vocal about things that I’ve experienced and still experience. The harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, and death attempts.”
She also claimed that she’s been shot at and has been run off the road multiple times.
Some of you reading this may think I’m reaching, or diving into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. But the killing of activists who have a message of making the world a better place is nothing new. Which is why I think something is going on, specifically with the Black Lives Matter community, that no one is talking about.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.