September 8 marks the fourth anniversary of Ashanti Billie, 19, missing from Norfolk in 2017. Police found her body 11 days later in Charlotte, North Carolina.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – Ashanti Billie’s parents and leaders in Virginia Beach City honor her memory on Saturday afternoon, marking four years since her passing.
During this event, they will ask Congress to fully fund the federal alert system they launched in his honor, to help other missing people.
It took lawmakers less than a year to implement the Ashanti Alert Act following the disappearance and death of the 19-year-old who attended the University of Virginia Beach.
Billie disappeared in 2017 from JEB Little Creek-Fort Story. Her body was found in Charlotte, North Carolina eleven days later. The man accused of kidnapping and killing Billie, Eric Brown, remains behind bars.
The murder investigation sparked a movement to create an effective federal whistleblower system for missing persons under the Ashanti Alerts Act.
In 2020, it became a federal pilot program as US Senator Mark Warner pushed the Justice Department to take action. The federal system offers one million dollars to each state to implement the program, similar to the AMBER or Silver Alert systems. Recently, American Senses Tim Kaine and Richard Blumenthal, as well as Warner, requested full funding for the system.
Although the law has reached the federal level, not all states have adopted the system. For Billie’s family and activists like Michael Muhammad, this lack of initiative is frustrating.
“People have suffered a tremendous loss in this incredible human being,” said Muhammad, who helped draft the original bill. “Unfortunately, due to the change of administration, we have not received enough attention on this vital issue. All we need now is for the Senate to do what is necessary to secure the resources. appropriate. “
Muhammad says Billie’s family is calling on Congress to fully fund this law now while lawmakers discuss infrastructure and budget bills. He says he wants action taken, as the community honors the fourth anniversary of Billie’s disappearance.
“We need to partner with our government and our leaders, like Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine, and get this thing across the finish line so that it can be fully funded, so that all 50 states and their territories can be protected, ”says Muhammad.
Billie’s family, alongside city leaders, will host a special event Saturday at Gather Virginia Beach. It starts at 1 p.m. and continues until 3 p.m. Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer is expected to say a few words in honor of Billie’s memory.
Editor’s Note: The above video has been archived since January 2019.