Posted by: Ophelia | May 10, 2008

“Lady, why are you calling here? Your daughter is 21. These officers should not have taken the report in the first place.”

NYPD Inaction Over a Missing Black Woman Found Dead Sparks a Historic Racial-Bias Lawsuit

Less than two months before Romona Moore vanished in Canarsie, Svetlana Aronov, the white wife of a doctor, went missing on the Upper East Side.

The day after Aronov vanished, police launched a massive search for her and the cocker spaniel, Bim, she had taken for a walk. The NYPD called a press conference, assigned two dozen detectives to the case full-time, and went door to door, passing out flyers with pictures of Aronov and Bim on them. The cops traced the Aronovs’ phone and bank records and analyzed surveillance tape gathered from stores and apartment buildings near her home. A police van emblazoned with the department’s 800 tip-line number drove around her neighborhood, blaring details of her disappearance over a loudspeaker. A letter was sent to rare-books dealers, a business the Aronovs dabbled in. Detectives reportedly even consulted a psychic.

A bloodhound was assigned to track Bim’s scent.


They told Carmichael that if Romona still hadn’t returned by seven that night, marking her gone for 24 hours, she should call the precinct. At seven on the dot, Carmichael called the precinct. A detective told her: “Lady, why are you calling here? Your daughter is 21. These officers should not have taken the report in the first place.” The next day, April 26, the complaint was marked “closed.”

When the police still failed to respond, the family contacted local politicians, who called the precinct demanding action. At 4 p.m. on Monday, April 28, some 93 hours after Romona disappeared, the police finally bowed to political pressure and officially opened an investigation. Detective Wayne Carey caught the case. By then, of course, it was too late.

Covered at Feministing, Feministe, What About Our Daughters, The Feminist Underground

Not previously covered here because I couldn’t come up with any commentary. I’m heartbroken that I have none, that this is par for the course and I fully expect the lawsuit to go nowhere. It kills me that this is a tangible part of the black experience, and no one ever really notices the difference in treatment, that people sit back and do nothing when it’s a black girl but fall all over themselves when she’s white.  It kills me that black women go missing every day, and its up to the parents to make it news, because otherwise it would never be (In fact there’s a blog dedicated to such a task). It fucking guts me every time I see this.

Actually what spurred this post was seeing a comment in a feminist community in reaction to the story stating, “Don’t get me wrong, this is horrific. But from everything I’ve understood of police protocols, missing persons reports of people over the age of 18 won’t get a whole lot of attention from police until 24 hours at _minimum_. Just a thought.”

When confronted, the poster then went on to offer that they hadn’t read “the rest of the article.” It’s much easier to presume that the reactions to this incident are unfounded than to read the article and find out why people are so upset. What’s another missing black girl? Those black people–always overreacting.  Frankly I’m sick to death of seeing this sort of shit in feminism.



  1. What the hell was she expected to do if the police didn’t take the call even at 24 hours? Pretend she never existed? It shouldn’t have had to be spurred on by political pressure, it should have been taken seriously at the start. Then again, if the politicians really cared, they would have gotten the people that made the decision to close it so soon and to ignore the report fired.

  2. That comment was left on Feministing, right? It is shameful – she didn’t read any of the article or even the whole post apparently, which made the disparity between the treatment of missing persons cases in the black and white communities clear.

    Unfortunately, considering yourself to be feminist doesn’t necessarily make you anti-racist. Hell, considering yourself to be feminist doesn’t even make you anti-sexist all the time. Hopefully posts like the one she failed to read the first time, and the one here, will eventually make her realize that just because she doesn’t want to acknowledge racism doesn’t make it go away.

    This family’s bravery through the tragedy is phenomenal. I really hope their lawsuit helps.

  3. It was on the feminist livejournal community. I’m not sure whether to be thankful or not :/.

  4. That is heartbreaking. I remember when I first heard about this, the article was accompanied by Romona’s picture, and I sat there for a second thinking, “I’m so, so sorry.” I was kinda surprised by how strong my reaction was before I had even read the story. I guess I felt that way partly because I do understand that this stuff happens. That doesn’t make it right, though.

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