In the first three months of 2017, a total of 501 juveniles (mostly black or Latino) have gone missing in the capital of the United States, yet the deeply disturbing report hasn’t become newspaper headlines.
On March 21, Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton called on 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 [human trafficking or sex slavery] that must be addressed.”
After their letter to the Justice Department seeking aid from federal law enforcement officials to investigate the startling number of missing children in Washington, D.C. was released by Associated Press, an outcry on social media drew national attention to the horrifying issue.
— M (@mariyahrosales_) March 24, 2017
People in the #missingdcgirls tag saying, ‘If they were white they’d be on the news’.
No, they’d be found by now.
Find these damn girls.
— Your Father’s Keeper (@HomoWitch) March 24, 2017
— rico pride (@ricoopride) March 24, 2017
— Candice Patton (@candicekp) March 24, 2017
— GEM. (@ROZtheCreator) March 25, 2017
However, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia insists there has been no increase in the number of missing persons in their jurisdiction. Instead, they add, the amount of online attention given to finding these kids is on the rise — “often a key contributor to finding missing persons.”
According to their data, the number of missing child cases in Washington D.C. dropped from 2,433 in 2015 to 2,242 in 2016. D.C. Commander Chanel Dickerson, who heads the department’s Youth and Family Division, told reporters on March 24:
“There have been concerns that young girls in the District of Columbia are victims of human trafficking or have been kidnapped, or that there’s an increase in the number who have gone missing. And I say this without minimizing the number of missing persons in DC – because one missing person is one person too many – but there’s actually been a decrease. There is always a concern of human trafficking, but we have no evidence for this.”
There isn’t a spike in missing people in DC, we’re just using social media more to help locate them. Sorry to alarm you @__SoulFlower
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) March 9, 2017
Even though D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser argues “we don’t have an epidemic of people being kidnapped or snatched on our streets,” Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, claims “a lot of African American missing children are initially classified as runaways [rather than victims of abduction] and get no Amber Alert or media coverage.” Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, adds “human traffickers prey on the homeless, they prey on low income children, they prey on the runaways, they prey online.”
According to the National Crime Information Center, in 2016 there were 170,899 missing black juveniles under 18; 181,949 missing black juveniles under 21; and 218,818 missing black natives in the United States. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 6 endangered runaways were likely sex trafficking victims in 2016. Is it true that children of color that go missing receive less media coverage?
The Grio reports:
“When we look at the overall picture of the missing, black people account for nearly 40 percent, while only making up 13 percent of the total population. The media coverage on the missing, however, is quite the opposite. The press is 4 times more likely to report when a white person goes missing vs. someone who is black or brown. These numbers are even more dire when the missing is a black woman.
“In July of 2014, it was reported that more than 64,000 black women were missing in the United States. Although all of the women missing can’t be attributed to foul play, the lack of media exposure when discussing disappearances of black and brown people is shameful.
“The way that media chooses to handle missing persons cases dealing with minorities directly correlates with the way that police investigate them. How often do you see an Amber Alert when the child is black or brown versus when the child is white?”
Do you agree that missing persons of color rarely receive media attention or public outcry; and that media apathy and police indifference gives the traffickers freedom to abduct black juveniles? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below…
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