A group of Black and brown elected officials from Massachusetts is demanding that there be an independent investigation into the death of Mikayla Miller, a 16-year-old Black girl whose controversial hanging in a Boston suburb two months ago was ruled a suicide despite claims that she may have been lynched.
The 13 politicians, led by Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, crafted a letter and sent it to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office appealing for an investigation into whether Miller’s death was a hate crime. The overtones of homophobia and racism have been looming over the death of Miller, who identified as LGBTQ.
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The letter, sent Wednesday, specifically calls for an investigation to determine if Mikayla “was driven to suicide due to bullying because of her race and sexual orientation.”
Ryan’s office declined to comment about the letter when asked by the Boston Globe. While her office’s investigation into Mikayla’s death remains open, that’s not who the 13 politicians want to investigate the matter, their letter said without making a recommendation about which agency should handle the case.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey previously said last month that her office has the authority to open an independent inquiry, but would not make a decision until after Ryan’s office concludes its open investigation.
“[Mikayla] and her family deserve our support, protection and also full investigation,” Healey said at the time.
A medical examiner ruled Mikayla died from suicide more than a month after a jogger found her hanging in a wooded area of Hopkinton near her home.
One advocacy group and Mikayla’s family have suggested the teenager she was targeted and beaten to death by a group of white teens.
Numerous calls for an independent investigation have rung from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and local organizers. The politicians’ letter is the latest demand for the same.
Protesters have called for Ryan’s resignation, pressured her office to turn the case over to the FBI and claimed the district attorney’s office has mishandled the investigation.
The case is likened to the mysterious deaths of other Black teens whose communities feel justice went unserved. In Illinois, questions still remain around the death of Kenneka Jenkins, a 19-year-old who was found dead in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel located in Rosemont on Sept. 10, 2017. And in Georgia, the family of Kendrick Johnson has received renewed interest after a Georgia sheriff announced law enforcement would be reinvestigating his 2013 death after the 17-year-old was found dead in a gym mat.