October 23, 2008

Lakeesha Alert: Tekenya Wooten (Durham NC)

The Amber Alert system isn't working for our nubian sister, Tekenya Wooten. It is time to see if the Lakeesha Alert system can make a difference.

Gina McCauley laid out the challenge for all warriors in the afrosphere. It is not good enough to simply 'feel bad' about the fact that Tekenya Wooten and her unborn child are missing. When a 12-year old Black girl is missing it is time for all of us to get serious.

We need to get with the authorities in Durham NC so that this situation is resolved within hours ... not days ... not weeks.

The 12-year old girl is 8-months pregnant. I don't know the full story ... but, it appears that she was raped by someone. After all, you don't make mature adult decisions about sexual intercourse when you are in the 6th grade.

Anyhow, I'm following the lead of Gina. I have a client conference call shortly ... but, I'm going to make some calls. Can you do the same?

We need you to follow up today by e-mail, by phone, by fax, by African drums!

The News & Observer * (919) 829-4500, Ask for the 'News Department'.

I wanted to talk with the reporter assigned to the Tekenya Wooten story. I got as far as the voicemail for the paper's news department. I think that his name is Tad Author ... although, I could be wrong. It was difficult to understand it on his voicemail.

Anyhow, I let him know about my concern that the story of a missing 12-year old girl walking the streets of Durham while 8-months pregnant did not seem to be considered newsworthy by the Durham media. I expressed appreciation for the online bulletin ... however I thought that the newspaper should show more interest when a 12-year old victim of a crime (rape) was overlooked by the county-operated 'group home' in which she lived ... and that this 8-month pregnant child was not being searched for in any type of aggressive manner by the police, mayor or media. The young girl is obviously in danger and needs help. Why do only blonde-haired missing girls get media coverage? Why isn't this 12-year old nubian child being sought by all levels of Durham authorities?

The News & Observer
215 South McDowell Street
P.O. Box 191
Raleigh, NC 27602
Main: (919) 829-4500
Customer Service: (800) 522-4205

Villagers, please follow up with the News and Observer REPEATEDLY throughout the day.

Ask them why this didn’t make it to the print edition of the paper? Ask them why it isn’t newsworthy that North Carolina lost a child in their custody. Ask them why it isn’t newsworthy that you have a 12-year-old running around who is about to give birth any second. Ask them why the Durham Police Department thinks that sending out a random email with no follow up is a sufficient expenditure of law enforcement resources in light of the fact that there are TWO children’s lives at stake?

WRAL * (919) 821-8600, Fax: (919) 821-8541 * Updated Alert from WRAL
I talked with Sally. I explained the situation, especially the concern about the Durham Police Department treating this as a simple runaway and not as a more serious 'HIGH RISK' case. Sally informed me that Erin Hartness was the reporter assigned to the case. Sally indicated she would pass along my concerns to Ms. Hartness. I appreciate the bulletin posted by WRAL, however, this is a much more serious case and it requires a much more forceful local media presence. After all, Tekenya is 12. She’s 8-month’s pregnant. If she’s not high risk, what about her child? What about the fact that Black women under the age of 20 are the most likely to be the victims of maternal homicide? What about the fact that this little girl was likely impregnated when she was 11-years-old? That ain’t high risk?

Durham Police Department - Chief Jose Lopez, Sr. (919) 560-4322 jose.lopez@durhamnc.gov

I was transferred to voicemail of Toya Littlejohn. I left voicemail for her to pass along to the chief. I called back. This time I asked for the detective assigned to the Tekenya Wooten case. Instead I was given to Deputy Chief Ronald Hodge.

He indicated that the police had no evidence that she was "kidnapped". In fact, the police feel that she "left voluntarily" from the group home. How does a 12-year old girl who is 8-months pregant leave a county-owned facility VOLUNTARILY without the knowledge of the home administrators?. I asked that question to Deputy Chief Hodge. He told me that the "criteria established by the state of North Carolina" for listing Tekenya's case as 'HIGH RISK' had not been met. I pointed out that the young girl had already been victimized and raped earlier this year ...judging from her age and pregnancy. Deputy Chief Hodge told me that he didn't know if she was raped or not ... "it depends on the age of the other person and other factors."

Finally, I was able to ask again if the Durham Police Department would take another look at their designation of this case as a simple runaway instead of the 'HIGH RISK' designation that would kick in Amber Alerts and such throughout the city, county and state. Deputy Chief Hodge didn't want to answer that one. He said, "I have nothing more to say." Then he hung up.

Durham City Manager- Thomas Bonfield (919) 560-4222 tom.bonfield@durhamnc.gov
I spoke with his assistant, Edie Aikens. I provided my concern about the lack of urgency being displayed by the Durham Police Department. I informed her that the Durham Police Department is wrong for its refusal to designate this case as 'HIGH RISK'. This case will not receive media attention without the 'HIGH RISK' designation by the police department.

Ms. Aikens indicated that she spoke earlier in the day with the police department. Patrol cars are aware of this missing child. The bus routes that Tekenya was known to use have been alerted. The police are trying to track down another photo in addition to the cellphone photo that has currently been released.

Ms. Aikens indicated that I might hear later today from the city manager on my request to have the case upgraded to 'HIGH RISK'.

Ms. Aikens ended our call by stating that 'the hearts of the city go out to this young girl. The city of Durham cares about all our children ... regardless of race ... when they go missing.'

Mayor of Durham (919) 560-4333 ext. 269 Bill.Bell@durhamnc.gov
I was told that Mayor Bell is at a meeting. I left him a voicemail message with my name, phone number and email address. I told him about our concern that his city administration is not dealing with this matter correctly. A 12-year 'HIGH RISK' little girl is running around in the Durham streets and nobody in the city seems to care. Somebody needs to recognize that this young statutory rape victim is 8 months pregnant and doesn't have pre-natal care to ensure the safety of her or her unborn child. The police are treating this as a simple 'runaway'. How can anything be simple with a 6th or 7th grader is out there unprotected and unappreciated. Is Durham only interested in its new convention center ... or does the city have any concern for its children? Who will speak for Tekenya Wooten in Durham?

Villagers, If you have the time, in addition to the mayor, you can drop a note to each and every one of the Durham city council members their names are here and if you click on their names, their names and number will appear.

Durham Child Protective Services * Diane Pankey (919) 560-8424

Evidently the group home on 3529 Manford Drive is where Tekenya Wooten was staying before she went missing. Anyhow, it appears that this group home is under the domain of Diane Pankey.

I left a voicemail with Ms. Pankey expressing concern that one of her group homes could lose a 12-month girl that is 8 months pregnant. How does that happen? Isn't their any type of supervision for such a 'HIGH RISK' girl? Anyhow, I left her a voicemail message and we'll see what happens.

Villagers, I join with Gina McCauley in sending out this call to action for all of us in the afrosphere. We need you to TAKE ACTION right now.

We want to know where she is. We want to know where they think she is. We want to know why she was classified as a runaway and how they make that determination. We want to know how much “investigation” took place because it appears that Tekenya Wooten should be listed as a 'HIGH RISK' missing person. We want to know what, if any, steps have been taken beyond the electronic crime bulletin to find this little girl. If you know where she is and she is safe. Let us know. If not, let us know why you haven’t found her.

Brothers and sisters ... it was OK to feel bad when you first heard about Tekenya Wooten. Now it is time to pick up a spear and search the jungle for the young sister. MAKE A CALL and send some emails today! Let us know what you find out!


Nomadic said...

I sent an email to the police department:

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you for further information on the Tekenya Wooten case - the missing 12 year old girl who is 8 months pregnant. There have been allegations that the Durham Police Department were note taking this seriously enough, and that this is because Tekenya is not a white girl.

I work with the international media and I have no doubt there will be interest in this case, particularly at a time when racism in America is on everyones mind as the world watches a historic Presidential battle.

I first wanted to give you the opportunity of making comment. Have you issued a statement? Do you have a website for press engagement? And what exactly are you doing to look for Tekenya?

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Caroline Jaine

Director, imediate

e: caroline@imediate.org.uk

Unknown said...

Caroline - God bless you! Please let us know if you get a response from the Durham PD. Often it takes international media attention to get USA authorities to do the right thing...

PurpleZoe said...

Peace Villager

Thankyou for posting this. Everyone in the Afrosphere, and in community organization needs to take action immediately. It is great to raise awareness by blogging, but it is important we also get involved enough to ensure local government takes necessary action wherever injustices arise that can threaten the safety of children and community balance.

Here is my mass email to the people of 'the list' of local officials and media":


I am writing to request information regarding the process by which the local police department has determined that the missing child Tekenya Wooten is considered a runaway rather than a HIGH RISK case. Tekenya Wooten is a 12 year old girl child who is 8 months pregnant. She requires prenatal care, especially considering how young she is to be carrying a child in her small body.

It is highly unlikely young Miss Wooten ran away unless there was a threat to her and/or her child, and if there is evidence of such threat it needs to be investigated to ensure her safety. If she was raped, it is possible there could be danger coming from her attacker, as she is so close to term. It is also possible that if her pregnancy is the result of a rape, her attacker may have abducted her.

Your community, and the international community at large need to know that missing children of any heritage are searched for tirelessly, with full intent to keep communities safe. This charge is the responsibility of local government first. Please send word on whether or not an official statement has been made on this matter, how the determination was come by, and take into consideration the will of community activists around the world taking interest in this case who are demanding Tekenya wooten be classified as HIGH RISK.

I am one of many making that demand.

Thankyou for your time.
I look forward to your response."

Shine on

DNLee said...

UPDATE: Girl FOUND, today.

I emailed this post to relatives who live in the area earlier this morning.

PurpleZoe said...

Peace *_^

Just a heads up. The Durham Chief of Police wrote back, and was very informative. Because Tekenya is a juvenile some info can't be released, but she has runaway before, which makes it clear why there was no high alert raised.
Not sure why the officer you spoke to couldn't at least give you the courtesy of that information...

Shine bright

Unknown said...

PZ - Thank you for that update. I'm glad that she was found. We did what we can do from 30,000 feet above the ground. I pray that someone on the ground in Durham ... local church, family, somebody ... is working with Tekenya to identify who she is running away to find as well as to ensure she has proper pre-natal preparations for the birth.