Tallahassee Model and Black Lives Matter Activist Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau Found Slain After Going Missing
What happened to Oluwatoyin Salau, and why wasn’t she protected?
Throughout the Black Lives Matter movement rising in awareness and over the past two weeks, the untimely deaths of Black men have often been highlighted. What most news sources haven’t highlighted as much are the Black women who have been murdered by police and men in their own circles.
On June 6, the 19-year-old model and activist Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau used the power of social media to tweet her experience with sexual assault, only to go missing soon after. Her body was found nine days later on Saturday night in south Tallahassee, FL, as confirmed by her family and the state’s police department.
Anyways I was molested in Tallahassee, Florida by a black man this morning at 5:30 on Richview and Park Ave. The man offered to give me a ride to find someplace to sleep and recollect my belongings from a church I refuged to a couple days back to escape unjust living conditions.
— Oluwatoyin (@virgingrltoyin) June 6, 2020
Salau was one of two victims killed in the same area, the second being Victoria “Vicki” Sims, a grandmother best known for her work as a retired state worker.
Police officials took 49-year-old Aaron Glee, Jr. into custody as a suspect of both deaths. The connection between him and the two women is not clear at the moment.
Hours before she went missing, Salau wrote a Twitter thread of how she was molested by a man that morning. She’d wrote about how a man gave her a ride to a church, where she was in refuge “to escape unjust living conditions.”
He came disguised as a man of God and ended up picking me up from nearby Saxon Street. I entered his truck only because I carry anything to defend myself not even a phone (which is currently at the church) and I have poor vision. I trusted the holy spirit to keep me safe.
— Oluwatoyin (@virgingrltoyin) June 6, 2020
According to her friend Danaya Hemphill, Salau was last seen at a vigil with her friend group, protesting the murder of Tony McDade, who was killed by a police officer.
“We were all together one minute, and the next minute our friend was gone,” Hemphill stated. “Toyin was very passionate,” said Hemphill. “She was very vocal she was very loving, very spiritual, very caring. Toyin she was like a light in a dark room. That was Toyin.”
How was all of this possible? How was it that Salau, Sims, and so many Black women like them, were not protected? How is it possible that Salau, this same woman who had spent her last days fighting for equality, was not being fought for in the same manner?
a beautiful, glowing soul that was taken from this earth way too soon. to be out there protesting so passionately while battling so much in your own life… you deserved so much better. #justicefortoyin pic.twitter.com/WxaIlAO25k
— Madison De La Garza (@MadDeLaGarza) June 15, 2020
EMERGENCY ACTION: It is clear that Toyin was failed by Tallahassee PD. We need answers. Please join us and make a call to demand that TPD release the FULL details of their investigation into the disappearance and murder of Oluwatoyin Salau. Call TPD NOW: (850) 891-4255 pic.twitter.com/l8tX5CJtAE
— Tallahassee Community Action Committee (@tallycac) June 16, 2020
There are so many questions and so little time to answer all of them in regards to this case, but surely, more work must be done to provide for our Black girls and women. As much as they fight to keep us safe, we must do the same for them.
Celebrities and other famous figures caught wind of the hashtag on social media to share their thoughts.
rest in power queen such a beauty… gone too soon pic.twitter.com/B0SVOXNKln
— chloe x halle (@chloexhalle) June 15, 2020
Heart-wrenching. Oluwatoyin Salau used her voice to fight for the Black community and speak out against injustice. She was only 19 and had her whole life ahead of her.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 15, 2020
please don’t go silent right now. go as hard for the injustice of black women just like you did for george floyd. she was too young to have met that end. she deserves to still be alive. #JusticeForToyin
— trin (@lovelltrin) June 15, 2020
Rest In Peace, Oluwatoyin Salau.
I’m sorry that your life was so painful in your last days on earth.
You were trying to change America for Black lives. Thank you.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) June 15, 2020
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after fighting on the frontlines endlessly for Black lives, Oluwatoyin Salau tweeted a detailed description of being sexually assaulted by a man who offered her a place to sleep. she was seeking refuge from abuse at home. shortly after tweeting her experience, Toyin went missing for days. last night they found her body. you see the direct outcome of your lack of support for women, especially Black women, who need help? who need protection. who need to be believed. i’m talking to you, the person who’s immediate response to a woman coming out about assault with disbelief, interrogation, mockery, “why now”, “you want clout”. to those that scroll past Black women’s goFundMe’s titled “trying to escape my abusive home” by CHOICE, not because you don’t have the means to help. this is for you, the family member who silently watches assault take place IN YOUR FAMILY and does absolutely nothing about it. i’m talking to you, the person that remains friends with/stands by/supports abusive men… y’all will defend your rapey ass friends till the death. accuse women of deserving it. of asking for it. they couldn’t have possibly BEEN ASSAULTED. this is for all of us, Toyin’s story is tragically the story of way too many we don’t know the names of. ones we pass on the street everyday. we really have to do fuckin better at supporting eachother. Toyin’s life could’ve been saved at home. Toyin’s life could’ve been saved when she escaped and needed somewhere to stay. we ache for you, Oluwatoyin Salau. say her NAME. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE IF THIS APPLIES TO YOU AND STRAIGHTEN THE FUCK UP.
As devastating and heartbreaking this news is to share, it brings a little hope to see so many women come together to discuss matters of safety, consent, and supporting each other globally.
Rest in power, Oluwatoyin Salau.