Owami Davies is safe – but don’t let the institutions that failed her off the hook

Owami Davies stands in a lift, taking a selfie
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Owami Davies, a previously missing student nurse, has now been found “alive and well.” Owami has been missing for eight weeks. While Owami’s been missing there’s been a lack of urgency from the police and Owami’s employers. They may not care about her safety and wellbeing, but we do. We have to make sure that we don’t let the institutions who failed her off the hook.

Amongst several others, Sisters Uncut noted that the search for Owami has to be understood in the context of “racist disengagement”:

The Metropolitan Police have been heavily criticised for basic failures in their approach. They used the wrong photo to publicise Owami’s disappearance – it was of a different woman. MP Diane Abbott told LBC:

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I think it’s fairly clear that this disappearance wasn’t treated entirely seriously.

Otherwise they couldn’t have put up the wrong photograph. You will know, and many of your audience will know, that the Metropolitan Police are in special measures. This is exactly the kind of thing why they are in special measures, this kind of sloppiness.

Officers actually saw Owami on the day she went missingThe Mirror reported that the police didn’t know she was missing when they spoke to her, and that their body cameras showed Owami looking “dishevelled”. Incredibly, the reason they didn’t realise she was a missing person was because Essex police hadn’t updated their database. While the officers in question aren’t currently being investigated, the Independent Office for Police Conduct have requested that the case be referred to them.

Police failure

People on social media shared their opinions on how Owami’s case was treated.

Journalist Lorraine King made it clear that the police didn’t find Owami:

Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu echoed this:

Advocacy group Speak Out Sister also mentioned police failures:

Race correspondent Nadine White reported on the failures of Owami’s workplace to publicise details of her case:

White mentioned a white nurse who had gone missing, and highlighted the difference in treatment:

Questions need to be asked

It’s undoubtedly great news that Owami has been found safe. What’s clear, however, is that Black women don’t receive the same concern, urgency, and care that other missing people do. The police made a characteristic series of catastrophic mistakes.

Owami Davies and her family deserve an inquiry into the behaviour of the police. In the meantime, this has all shown, once again, how vital it is to question mainstream media narratives and statements from the police. Being anti-racist means questioning and dismantling systems of power, no matter how difficult the situation. Owami Davies and her family have been failed by the institutions that should serve them. They must not be failed by communities.

Featured image via Twitter/@helpusfindowami

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