In the last month or so, more than a dozen black and Latinx teenagers—most of them girls—have gone missing in Washington, D.C. and very little media attention has been to their cases.
Much of the publicity has come from following the Metropolitan Police Department’s Twitter account.
They’ve been sending out “critical missing” notices, like this one:
— DC Police Department #StayHomeDC (@DCPoliceDept) March 9, 2017
The large number is particularly alarming because of the fact that the D.C. area is a den for human trafficking.
In the meeting, Police Chief Peter Newsham told the crowd that the number is not an unusual spike, but is just the result of social media publicizing the almost two dozen cases more.
“There is no case being swept under the rug; there is no child being left behind,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters.
Fortunately, in the last month, many of the missing teens have returned, but too many also have not.
Derrica Wilson, the co-founder of Black and Missing Foundation, said that regardless of the numbers, any number of missing children should be cause for alarm.
“We can’t focus on the numbers. If we have one missing child, that’s one too many,” Wilson told the AP.
Equally worrying is the lack of general care by the mainstream media and non-minority community members. In a community meeting earlier this week where citizens took the mayor and law enforcement officials to task about the problem, the meeting’s attendees were overwhelmingly black.
People have also called attention to the fact that missing white teens like Natalee Holloway become household names while the national media is still essentially silent on the missing teens of color in D.C.
If these girls were white we would have heard all about it. Makes me sick, they are children! Do something!! #missingdcgirls
— Daisy Mae (@SwopeDiana) March 24, 2017
The reason Get Out is scary for Black ppl is because it's not just a movie, it's our reality. We go missing & no one cares. #missingdcgirls
— petitepapaya (@tinypapayas) March 24, 2017
— LISSETTE J NORMAN (@charlipenn) March 24, 2017
In response, black members of Congress have asked the Justice Department to get involved with the investigation into the disappearances, according to the Associated Press.
They asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to “devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”
The letter said in part: “Ten children of color went missing in our nation’s capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention. That’s deeply disturbing.”