So far this year, Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department has a count of 501 missing juveniles, many of them black or Latina girls. As of now, 22 cases are still considered unsolved. A recent outrage on social media has prompted reactions from black lawmakers and the DC Police. Police say that there has not been an increase in disappearances and that they have simply been using social media more to report about them. “We’ve just been posting them on social media more often,” said Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid.
However, black lawmakers are speaking out and in a recent letter they asked FBI Director James Comey and the Justice Department 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.” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represent the District in Congress, sent the letter on Tuesday. The letter stated that “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.”
Celebrities have started to draw attention to the issue on social media as well. Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, along with Kris Kardashian Jenner, Olivia Wilde, Sean Diddy Combs, Gabrielle Union and many other celebs have all spoken out about the missing girls. Olivia Wilde wrote on Instagram, “The response that these numbers aren’t any higher than normal should only make us more horrified. Kids of color have been unrecognized and uncared for by law enforcement, the education system (as a whole, not the heroic teachers working hard every day for far too little pay), and government in general, for far too long. It’s a deeply rooted issue, ingrained in our sadly flawed social fabric, but it is within our power to CHANGE IT. It starts with us demanding justice, demanding equal media coverage, and voting with vulnerable kids in mind, instead of dollar signs and fear.”
Wilde makes an excellent point. If these disappearances are not an increase, then why haven’t these been spoken about before? No response has been made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions or FBI Director James Comey. The DC Metropolitan Police Department continues to maintain that these statistics are not an anomaly and are in line with previous counts. Whatever their response, it’s clear that we’re no longer willing to overlook the lives of these missing girls.