A group of missing Black and Latino girls in Washington D.C. has been met with unsatisfactory media coverage. To make matters worse, D.C. police are claiming the teenagers are likely to be runaways, not victims of violent crime.
A police spokesperson told TMZ they believe all of missing the girls are runaways based on the circumstances behind their disappearance, however, they admit they cannot be certain. The local police and D.C. Mayor’s office told the news outlet that out of the thousands of missing persons cases they handle every year, most of them end up being found.
Still, the numbers seem way more than circumstantial. The Metropolitan Police Department recorded 501 cases of missing children so far in 2017. 22 of those cases were open as of Wednesday. Many of those reported missing are Black and Latino.
A viral post on social media implied that 14 girls in the D.C. area went missing within a 24-hour period, but police say those claims are false. “We have no evidence in any of these cases that anyone was kidnapped or is the victim of sex trafficking,” Chanel Dickerson said Commander of the new leader of the Youth and Family Services division, told NBC.
Still, the information doesn’t make the disappearance of these girls any less urgent. The outrage on social media about ongoing investigations is beginning to spread like wildfire. Celebrities like Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson and Andy Cohen have joined in on the hashtag #MissingDcGirls to rally their frustration over lack of media coverage about the uptick in cases of missing Black and Latina girls. The coverage is startling in comparison to the vast coverage we remember of missing white girls like Elizabeth Smart and Laci Peterson.