A couple dozen community members showed up at Sweetness 7 Café on Grant Street this morning to join a grassroots on-foot search party for Frank Goldberg, 36, the local LGBT activist who has been missing since Monday night.
Groups of three to five individuals are currently coming the blocks surrounding Lafayette Avenue and Grant Street, Goldberg’s last-known whereabouts, as well as along the Niagara Riverwalk and Scajaquada Creek trails.
Groups were instructed not only to search for Goldberg, but to distribute missing posters and ask individuals and shop workers whether they’ve seen Goldberg in the area recently.
Friends and family are part of the search party, as well as individuals that have never met Frank before, but have seen or heard the family’s pleas for help on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“Wherever Frank is, she would be so happy to know how loved she is,” said Goldberg’s sister Harmony, who addressed the volunteers at the café before they set out. “You’re giving this family so much strength.”
Karin Lowenthal, a former girlfriend of Goldberg’s, stepped up to organize the search, although having no experience, she said.
Lowenthal and several others have stayed behind at Sweetness 7 to man the informal headquarters set up there.
“There is no set end time,” she said, “we’re searching until we find her.”
Goldberg’s family said that after daily attempts to locate her at nearby hospitals, shelters, psychiatric wards and even the coroner’s office, they feel “stuck” in terms of what to do next.
They’ve contacted friends of Goldberg’s in Portland, Ore., hoping she may have attempted to contact them or return to her home there. Harmony said those inquiries have returned no new information.
Although a missing person report was filed with D District Buffalo Police, Harmony said they have been unable to contact anyone at the department that can tell them the status of the investigation.
“We get bounced around,” she said.
A police spokesperson, Michael DeGeorge, confirmed Friday that the report was filed on Tuesday afternoon, but said he wasn’t sure what steps the department had already taken or planned to take.
DeGeorge said that in a case like this, police procedure is to investigate the matter, follow up on leads, and ask anybody with information regarding the individual’s whereabouts to call Buffalo police if they have any information.
“I’ll check with the chief of our district and folks involved with the camera surveillance system to check and see what they may or may not have,” he said. “I’m not sure if there are cameras there, but I will check.”
Goldberg is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds. She identifies as gender-queer, and her preference is the feminine pronoun, Harmony said. Friends and family describe Goldberg as having a tomboy-ish appearance with short, graying blond hair.
She wore a green canvas coat when she disappeared, and possibly a black knit hat with a yarn Mohawk along the top. She did not leave with her cell phone.
Although her wallet was on her person at the time, Goldberg’s bank account has shown no activity since her disappearance, Harmony said.
“We don’t suspect any kind of hate crime,” she said, “unless she was going to run an errand and got assaulted. We really don’t know where to look. She’s never done anything like this before.”
Friends of Goldberg reported that she was in “a difficult place emotionally on Monday night and — to our knowledge — she left the house of her (own) volition without telling anyone.”
More than 1,200 people now follow the “Help Find Frank Goldberg” Facebook page, where anyone with information regarding her whereabouts can share what they know.
“It’s been so moving to see so many people wanting to help and all of it happening so quickly,” Harmony said.
Goldberg worked at Pride Center of Western New York and Evergreen Health Services for several years when she lived in Buffalo. Coworkers described her as “a great floater” for both organizations.
She was an advocate for the transgender community, helping to organize a local support group. She also worked in substance-abuse counseling, and helped in the organization of the annual Pride celebration.
Friends have described Goldberg as “very down-to-earth” and “a loving and strong person, and she is valued deeply by the people in her life. She is both gruff and gentle.”
Lowenthal has passed on the following tips from Buffalo Police for anyone wishing to join the search party or search on their own:
“Do not travel in groups of less than three. Do not carry valuables. Store them in your trunks before arriving in the neighborhood to be searched. It is discouraged to walk around with your phone in your hand. That could make you a target for a snatch-and-grab.”
Check back for updates to this story.
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