Lauren Smith-Fields. Say her name.
She was a young woman, a daughter, a sister, someone who deserved to live. She was learning like all of us. Learning who she was, what she stood for, and her life was tragically taken away from her.
Lauren did what most people dating age do — she met someone on Bumble. His name? Matthew LaFountain, a 37-year-old who matched with Lauren, 23, three days prior.
She knew better than to give him her phone number. So naturally, they communicated through social media and developed a small connection there. According to Matthew’s statement, after a couple of ignored Instagram calls, Lauren answered and decided it was time to meet and they ended up drinking together. He swears that’s all they did — drink. Lauren threw up, drank some more, and fell asleep. He woke up once at 3 am and Lauren was fine. However, when he next woke, she had blood coming from her nose.
That was all the police needed to hear to declare that he was innocent. Anyone who knows a bit about our justice system knows that the last person to see the victim alive is usually a person of interest. However, Bridgeport Connecticut Police Department didn’t seem to think that was the case.
Many assume that the reason why they didn’t look into this further is because her date was a white man. After all, in any other normal situation, the last person to see her alive, especially if they were in a room alone together, would be a person of interest. Why would the police take Matthew’s word as law?
The family has already found holes in Matthew’s story. He claims that all he and Lauren did was cuddle, but upon investigating the situation themselves, the family found a discarded used condom and what appeared to be bloody sheets. On the Bridgeport Police’s part, that is pure utter negligence. Whether or not they thought of him as a ‘nice guy’, he needed to be prime suspect number one.
What’s worse is that the police didn’t even notify the family. Instead, the landlord left a note on the door for anyone who was looking for Lauren Smith-Fields to contact him. Lauren was close with her family and the fact that they weren’t properly informed is abhorrent.
At first, no one wanted to comment on this story. The police were set to make it a cut-and-dry case of a presumed sex worker dying from drugs. But according to Lauren’s family, she never used narcotics. Lauren’s mom Shantell told The Real,
“She worked out every day, she was on a plant-based diet. She went to college. She had her own business in her home. There was no drugs. She was not on drugs at all. She had her whole life ahead of her.”
So how did the slew of narcotics found during the autopsy enter her system?
Her family would not let this be her legacy. Though the media tries to tarnish her name, they continue to fight back by flooding the internet with pictures and videos of her. She will be remembered as a joyful young black woman who was taken too soon.
For more than a month, they fought for people to give her death the same attention as the Gabby Petitio case. They didn’t want her to be ignored like so many black women who fall victim to femicide.
She wouldn’t go ignored. People hounded Bumble to make some sort of statement on what happened. Weeks after dodging the situation, Bumble finally issued a statement on January 21, 2022, more than a month after Lauren’s death on December 12, 2021.
Lauren didn’t deserve to die. She had a story to tell, and that story was tragically cut short. Not only was her story halted in such an unfair way but the media also continue their rampage to portray her as some flippant party girl.
Instead of who she is and what she deserved to be: a complex, smart, funny, family-oriented black woman making her way through life.
Her story was overlooked. But celebrities, activists, and people who care are demanding that the world knows her name and that her story is told with respect and dignity that she deserves. Say her name. Shout her name. Sing her name. For it deserves to be told.