You may have seen posts on social media in the past few days calling out the national media and law enforcement for ignoring cases of black and Latinx girls currently reported missing in Washington, D.C. Celebrities and civilians alike are using the hashtag #MissingDCGirls to highlight the high number of young people (and especially young women) reported missing this year:
The #missingDCgirls aren't only in DC, but in the entire country. They also aren't only 14, but there are thousands of missing black girls.
— Gilluis Pérez (@Gilluis_Perez) March 24, 2017
If the #missingdcgirls were white women, the country would be on high alert. Color of skin shouldn't matter - find them and bring them home
— CM (@Colinsayshey) March 24, 2017
In response to the outcry, black members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling on the Justice Department to investigate the disappearances.
In the letter to Sessions, Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond, (D-La), wrote, "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," Richmond's letter said.
However, D.C.'s police department has also said that the number of missing persons reports is not actually higher this year than any other. "We've just been posting them on social media more often," said Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid.
The attention on the cases from social media, though, has caused concern not only in the D.C. area but across the country.
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.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation said, "We also noticed that a lot of African American children that go missing are initially classified as runaways. They do not get an Amber Alert or media coverage."
Black and Missing Foundation co-founder Derrica Wilson pointed out, "We can't focus on the numbers. If we have one missing child, that's one too many."
"They prey on the homeless, they prey on low income children, they prey on the runaways, they prey online," Wilson added.
Richmond echoed Congress' calls for a more thorough investigation, saying, "Whether these recent disappearances are an anomaly or signals of underlying trends, it is essential that the Department of Justice and the FBI use all of the tools at their disposal to help local officials investigate these events, and return these children to their parents as soon as possible."