AND DID RACE PLAY A ROLE IN THIS CASE’S COVERAGE?
The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is under fire for not issuing an Amber Alert in connection with a missing girl in rural Marlboro County, S.C. – although it appears the agency was correct in its interpretation of the existing criteria for such public notifications.
The question? Whether those criteria should be changed …
Meanwhile, others questioning whether race played a role in the publicity (or lack thereof) associated with this young girl’s disappearance.
Eight-year-old Iyana Lowery (below) is currently unaccounted for after her mother, Ella Lowery, was found dead inside her Bennettsville, S.C. home on Friday. The young girl has black hair and brown eyes and is 4-foot-2, 100 pounds.
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Deputies have arrested 36-year-old Dwayne Jermaine Bright of Bennettsville, S.C. and charged him with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to WLTX TV-19.
Some good news? A small child was found alive in Lowery’s home.
According to SLED spokesman Thom Berry, police had no information on the suspect’s vehicle “nor (the) direction of possible travel – so it did not qualify for Amber.”
SLED’s website lists the following conditions for the issuance of Amber Alerts in connection with missing children …
- The law enforcement agency believes that the child has been abducted: taken from their environment unlawfully, without authority of law, and without permission from the child’s parent or legal guardian.
- The child is 17 years old or younger, and the law enforcement agency believes the child is in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death; or if the individual is 18 years old or older, and the law enforcement agency believes the individual is at greater risk for immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death because the individual possesses a proven physical or mental disability.
- All other possibilities for the victim’s disappearance have been reasonably excluded.
- There is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the victim, suspect, or vehicle used in the abduction.
- The child’s name and other critical data have been entered into NCIC.
“If you respond NO to ANY of the above statements, it does not meet the U.S. Department of Justice recommended criteria for activation of the AMBER Alert,” the agency noted.
Some sources at the agency questioned whether those criteria should be modified, though.
Berry told us SLED did issue a bulletin on the case which included photos of the young girl – and said this bulletin was disseminated to “all law enforcement agencies shortly after (her) mother’s body was found.”
In lieu of an Amber Alert, individuals with information about Lowery are encouraged to contact the Marlboro County sheriff’s office at 843-479-5605 or CrimeStoppers of the Pee Dee at 888-CRIME-SC. Individuals who provide tips to those lines are guaranteed anonymity.
In addition to questioning law enforcement’s handling of this case, it’s also been suggested that race may have played a role in the media’s coverage of Lowery’s disappearance.
“I believe if this little girl were white this would be plastered on every front page website and paper,” one law enforcement source (who is white) told us. “This isn’t even on the front page of most local news websites.”
That’s a good point …
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