Social media timelines have been flooded with photos of missing Black girls from the DMV area all month long.
It was reported that over a dozen young women of color have gone missing from Washington, D.C., since March 19th, and the Black community is adamant on making sure the story received proper attention from mainstream media.
Thankfully, this past Friday, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the creation of a special taskforce that will be committed to finding missing children in Washington, D.C.
The Associated Press obtained a letter sent two days earlier by Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, asking the FBI to assist in the search for the missing girls.
— MurielBowser (@MurielBowser) March 24, 2017
“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,” said Chairman Richmond in the letter. A meeting was held at Excel Academy Public Charter School in the nation’s capital on March 22nd, where community members held police officers accountable and demanded answers for their concerns. They spoke directly to D.C. Mayor Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham about their fears and concerns. “Often times, these girls are repeat runaways. So if we really want to help solve this problem and bring down the numbers, we have to break the cycle of young people, especially young girls, who repeatedly run away from home,” Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Washington Post.
Police report that there hasn’t been an increase in the number of missing children in the area, however this is assumed due to the departments increased utilization of social media to publicize the reports. This story is not only upsetting from an emotional perspective, but a racial one as well. This situation has been very telling on how different the media and police departments treat white victims versus those of color.
The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology published a 2016 analysis of online missing persons coverage, which revealed white women receive more attention and intense coverage in the media. Last year alone there were 400,000 minors reported missing to the FBI and 38% of them were Black. As of February 2017, there were 8,042 open missing person cases for Black girl under 18 according to a special report by Essence Magazine.
Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation is questioning whether or not these cases are due to human trafficking. Wilson believes even with the information police have provided, it is still unsettling that so many children are gone missing at once. “They prey on the homeless, they prey on low income children, they prey on the runaways, they prey online,” says Wilson.
The Congressional Black Caucus has reached out to Attorney General Jeff Session and FBI Director James Comey to try and see if there are any resources that need to be dedicated to determining the real issues behind these cases. Caucus members also sent messages to the Justice Department, with no reply. There has not been a meeting scheduled yet but Donald Trump told members of the Black Congressional Caucus that his cabinet secretaries are available to them.
There will be more police officers tasked with finding the missing girls and the special taskforce will focus on creating more stable home environments for at risk teens.