Black lawmakers are calling on the FBI to investigate whether there is an increase in cases of missing black children and teens in the nation’s capital.
In a letter obtained by the Associated Press, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., 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 that must be addressed.”
On social media, people are using the hashtag #MissingDcGirls to voice frustration over lack of media coverage in what many believe is an uptick in cases of missing black and Latina girls.
“There are so many girls missing , help find them instead of focusing on some football jersey,” @Twerkballerina tweeted.
But is there really an increase in missing person cases in the Washington, D.C.-area? The short answer is no, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
The police department has simply been using Twitter more often to publicize missing person reports, Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said to clear up the public concern over the youth cases.
Sharing them more on social media is giving the impression the number of cases has increased, he said, when they haven’t. He said missing person reports are down so far in 2017.
According to the head of Metropolitan Police Department’s Youth and Family Services, over the past five years 200 people have been reported missing each month.
So far in 2017, there have been 190 cases on average.
From 2012 to 2016, officials said 99 percent of all missing person cases have been closed. Out of those 19,000 cases, only 16 remain open.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Acting Chief Newsham also confirmed they have found no connection to these cases and human trafficking, which is another theory that has been circulating online.
According to the Black and Missing foundation, an organization that brings awareness to missing children of color, 36.8 % of missing children nationwide are black.
“We also noticed that a lot of African American children that go missing are initially classified as runaways,” Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation. “They do not get an Amber Alert or media coverage.”