Missing 19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist among 2 women found dead in Florida; arrest made

Nation/World
Toyin Salau was a dedicated activist and a self-taught artist, her friends said. (Alina Amador)

Toyin Salau was a dedicated activist and a self-taught artist, her friends said. (Alina Amador)

A 19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist from Florida has been found dead one week after she went missing.

Tallahassee police found the bodies of Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, along with 75-year-old Victoria Sims, on Saturday. Their deaths are being investigated as homicides.

Police arrested a suspect, Aaron Glee, 49, the Tallahassee Police Department said.

Salau was last seen on June 6. Earlier that day, she’d tweeted that she was sexually assaulted. Her friend Chynna Carney confirmed the Twitter account belonged to Salau.

The tweets said that Salau had left some belongings at a church where she was seeking shelter and a man who’d offered her a ride to recollect the items later molested her while she tried to sleep.

It’s unclear whether Glee is the same man Salau reported had molested her. CNN has reached out to Tallahassee Police to confirm Salau’s account of sexual assault and is waiting to hear back.

Sims was a longtime AARP volunteer. Her family declined to comment on her death.

A 19-year-old activist and friend

Salau had been Carney’s friend since before high school, she said. The 19-year-old taught herself to sew, paint and design her own clothes.

“She had so many dreams and she never gave up,” Carney said. But she’d endured a tremendous amount of pain, too; Carney described her as a sad person with the “happiest soul.”

And she was always a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“When she started protesting with us, that was the happiest I’ve ever seen her,” Carney said.

Footage of Salau speaking at a protest in honor of Tony McDade, a trans man who was killed by Tallahassee police last month, has quickly traveled since her death. In the clip, she says he doesn’t want to divide people, but unite them against police brutality committed against black Americans.

“At the end of the day, I cannot take my f*****g skin color off,” Salau says in the clip. “Everywhere I f*****g go, I am profiled whether I like it or not… So guess what? I’m gonna die by it. I’m going to die by my f*****g skin. You cannot take my f*****g blackness away from me.”

Her passion endeared her to Alina Amador, a photographer who frequently recruited Salau to model for her.

“Her beauty was so radiant, and modeling for her was so effortless,” she said. “She was very calm and gentle.”

Carney said her friend’s death has motivated her to fight for black women like Toyin.

“I will never stop protesting,” Carney said. “I will fight for her and for black people and people of color ’til I’m dead.”

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