It has been three years since the grassroots activist and organizer Oluwatoyin Salau was murdered during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. On June 13, 2020, the Tallahassee Police Department investigators found Salau’s body on the side of the road. Shortly after tweeting about getting sexually assaulted, the 19-year-old went missing. 

An Untimely Demise

The news of Salau’s death came as a shock to many who knew and had come to love her. Salau had been actively involved in the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country following the murder of George Floyd by the police. Salau was also known for using her platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights while trying to escape abuse at the hands of her family.

On June 6, Salau made a series of tweets talking about her sexual assault, particularly her experience with the Black man who had molested her that day. That same day, her mother reported Salau missing. 

The Dismissal Of Black Women’s Tragedies

The murder of Oluwatoyin Salau highlighted the erasure of Black women’s experiences in the fight for structural justice. As the scholar and activist Brittany Cooper wrote in a now-deleted tweet, “Breonna Taylor died of police violence. #DominiqueFells and #RiahMilton died of gender violence toward trans women. #ToyinSalau died sometime after being sexually assaulted. If this movement values Black women’s lives, it cannot afford to focus solely on police violence.” 

Salau’s demise prompted several conversations about the women society chooses to protect and the importance of speaking out and protecting Black women. Celebrities, like Gabrielle Union, also spoke out about Salau’s murder.

“She reported her sexual assault to police and days later was found murdered. The horrors she faced, the trauma she endured, all by 19 years old. Who cares for little Black girls, Black teens, Black women?” Union wrote in an Instagram post.

The Trial

Aaron Glee Jr., a 51-year-old man was charged with the murder of Tosin and Victoria “Vicki” Sims, another active volunteer in her community. Glee admitted to imprisoning Toyin for days before killing her. He also initially signed and then, rejected a plea deal earlier this year with his case going to trial.