Governor signs MMIWR bills

Legislation funds AG role to investigate cases, creates Missing in New Mexico Day

By: - Friday February 25, 2022 5:00 am

Governor signs MMIWR bills

Legislation funds AG role to investigate cases, creates Missing in New Mexico Day

By: - 5:00 am

Pauline Sarracino (middle) holds a sign with her granddaughter’s name outside the Pueblo Cultural Center before the signing ceremony for legislation on missing and murdered Indigenous women Thursday morning. (Photo by Sharon Chischilly / Source NM)

Pauline Sarracino (middle) holds a sign with her granddaughter’s name outside the Pueblo Cultural Center before the signing ceremony for legislation on missing and murdered Indigenous women Thursday morning. (Photo by Sharon Chischilly / Source NM)

Geraldine Toya has two reasons to be hopeful. 

First, she’s in the process of requesting that the Albuquerque Police Department reopen the case involving her daughter Shawna’s death.

“I feel relief that something is getting done, you know; we’re wanting to still look for justice, answers,” she  said.

Rose Yazzie (left) approaches Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (right) after the signing ceremony for legislation on missing and murdered Indigenous women Thursday at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. (Photo by Sharon Chischilly / Source NM)

 

Second, Toya (Jemez) was in attendance for the signing of legislation that will be a first step to addressing issues of missing and murdered Indigenous people in New Mexico. 

“Today’s the day that we are going to make history,” she said. “We’ve been searching for this moment, to get through with what we need, we deserve it. And we’re gonna actually see it and observe it for ourselves. So it’s big, it’s a big opening for us.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two bills during an event Thursday at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

An old photograph of Vangie Randall-Shorty and her son Zachariah Shorty. Zachariah Shorty
was found on July 25, 2020. His mother wants justice for those responsible for the death of her son. (Photo by Sharon Chischilly / Source NM)

MMIWR legislation waiting for gov’s signature to begin long reform process

The first piece of legislation will establish, “Missing in New Mexico Day,” an annual event to bring families together with law enforcement entities to establish a connection to resources that can assist these families with cases involving missing or murdered family members.

The second bill signed into law will give the state’s attorney general’s office authority to prosecute these cases and potentially create greater collaboration between police agencies that are responsible for working these cases.

The law also calls for the AG’s Office to form the “partnership in Native American communities network grant program,” designed to distribute up to $1 million in grants for tribes to develop training and criteria that will create a uniform system to report missing persons cases.

“We have a significant issue that demands our attention, every single effort, to bring together the most powerful tools at our disposal to not only ensure that we’re bringing justice, healing to the families, but that in fact, we began to do the real work to prevent such things from happening,” Lujan Grisham said.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham talks to the family of Shawna Toya after the signing ceremony for legislation on missing and murdered Indigenous women Thursday afternoon at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. (Photo by Sharon Chischilly / Source NM)

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Most recently he covered Indigenous affairs with New Mexico In Depth. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.

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