Unless you’ve been following the story on social media, chances are you may not have heard about the spate of teens who have gone missing in Washington, D.C.–until recently. Though Black Twitter has been keeping the story alive, the mainstream media has been slow to cover the Black and Latinx teens who have disappeared in recent weeks. Today, however, things seemed to have reached critical mass, with the hashtag #missingdcgirls gaining traction on Twitter and a slew of celebrities adding their voices to the cause.
Rapper Meek Mill took to Instagram to question why he hadn’t seen the story on national news.
“Haven’t seen nothing but trump on major news stations… I thought this was fake because I only seen it on social media,” he wrote. “Americas media is getting out of hand with the disrespect to the lack of coverage of our people and it’s becoming too blatant.”
Celebs like Ava DuVernay, Taraji P. Henson and Yara Shahidi have been sharing information about the missing teens, while LL Cool J has been asking other celebrities to get involved.
This is insanity!!!!!! #missingdcgirls
— LLCOOLJ (@llcoolj) March 24, 2017
— LLCOOLJ (@llcoolj) March 24, 2017
And he isn’t the only one imploring others to join the cause.
— C H A K A | K H A N (@ChakaKhan) March 24, 2017
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) March 24, 2017
It's 14 girls missing in DC help me bring them back home #findourgirlschallenge
— FERG (@ASAPferg) March 24, 2017
The issue of missing black/brown teens in DC highlights a steady trend that had gone below the public radar until now. pic.twitter.com/MY9H2cEfcv
— deray (@deray) March 24, 2017
Earlier this week, the Congressional Black Caucus asked the FBI to look into the case and “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,” while officials in Washington, D.C. held a community meeting addressing the missing teens. The room was packed with concerned citizens, but the emotional words of one area teen brought the issue home.
“We can’t even live our life without somebody trying to put their hands on us,” she said through her tears.
Emotions ran high at tonight’s meeting for the missing in D.C. The packed room was quiet when one young girl just asked “why?” pic.twitter.com/UhIccOtLow
— Van Applegate (@VBagate) March 23, 2017
Despite the outpouring of concern and the social media uproar, according to Commander Chanel Dickerson, the head of D.C.’s Investigative Services Bureau, Youth and Family Services Division, the number of missing teens in the city is actually lower than in recent years.
“It’s a decrease. But when we talk about numbers, I’m not trying to minimize when I say there’s not an up-tick or there’s been a decrease. It’s just that we wanted to be transparent and input it out so everyone can see,” she said. “For the past five years – and I said during the press conference – that we had over 19,000 missing person cases that we investigated and only 16 of those are open. But one missing person in the District of Columbia is one person too many.”
Still, for many who’ve shared information and outrage under the #missingdcgirls hashtag, the most frustrating thing of all is that it seems like when it comes to missing people of color, we’re the only ones who actually care.
The frustrating thing about the #missingdcgirls, besides the obvious, is Black woman & girls go missing ALL THE TIME w/ little coverage.
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) March 24, 2017
If you have information about the missing teens contact the Washington, D.C. police at 202-727-9099.