Where’s all the concern for Lauren Smith-Fields?
The Black TikTok influencer was found dead in her apartment after a date — and no one outside of her family and fans seem to care.
On December 12, 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields was found dead in her Bridgeport, Connecticut apartment after her Bumble date. More than a month later, police have yet to determine a cause of her death as Smith-Fields’s family tries desperately to find answers and prepares to sue the local police department for mishandling her investigation, according to Insider.
Out of frustration for what appears to be a total lack of action on the part of local cops, several TikTok creators have gone on the platform to bring attention to Smith-Fields’s case and have called out the media for generally ignoring cases of dead or missing Black women and girls. Last year, approximately 100,000 Black women and girls were reported missing, according to NPR, and for the most part few have made the news.
What is captivating and exasperating many TikTokers about this case in particular, though, is the inconsistencies in official reports and the Bridgeport police department’s reported unwillingness to work with Smith-Fields’s family.
Per an incident report that was summarized by Rolling Stone, Smith-Fields had invited Matthew LaFountain, a white man she’d met on Bumble, into her apartment. According to LaFountain, who spoke to law enforcement, they both took shots of tequila and had watched a movie before they fell asleep. The next morning, LaFountain said that Smith-Fields had a bloody nose and was unresponsive. Despite the fact that he was the last person to see her alive, Smith-Fields’s family says that LaFountain was never questioned or arrested and that the cops claimed LaFountain seemed like a “nice guy.”
In his retelling, LaFountain seemed to suggest that Smith-Fields had gone into the bathroom at some point and overdosed; her family believes otherwise. They insist that Smith-Fields was not a drug user and that she had been fine when her brother saw her earlier that night. LaFountain had also claimed Smith-Fields had asked him for $40 to get her nails done even though she had just had them done earlier that week and they were still completely intact, per Rolling Stone. When they cleaned out her apartment, Smith-Fields’s family says they found a used condom, bloody sheets, and an unidentified pill.
Look, regardless of what happened to Smith-Fields, it’s a tragedy that much of the country doesn’t have any motivation to get to the bottom of her mysterious death. Many TikTokers have correctly pointed out that this is just one example in a vicious trend of law enforcement neglecting crime against Black women while obsessing over cases of missing or murdered white women. Some have drawn parallels to the case of Gabby Petito, a white woman who went missing last year and received sustained media attention for months before her case was solved.
The obsession with finding justice for white women over women of color specifically is so ingrained in our culture that it was dubbed “missing white woman syndrome” by PBS journalist Gwen Ifill, and it still permeates journalism today. To be clear, tragedies should never be a competition and the loss of both women was equally unnecessary and devastating. But for Black women “protected” by American law enforcement, a fight for justice seldom precedes the mourning.