Washington D.C. police are under pressure to come up with answers about a recent perceived uptick in abductions of black and latina teenage girls in the area. Social media is full of tweets demanding that authorities take action and address the kidnappings, with many suggesting that the girls have been sold into the sex trade or for organ harvesting:
A town hall meeting on Friday was packed with constituents demanding to know why the mayor’s office hadn’t redirected money and efforts towards locating the teens:
But USA Today reports that officials are trying to calm fears by saying the number of missing teenagers has not gone up, only that the way those disappearances are reported has made them more visible (these days, police will post to social media themselves to announce that a child has gone missing). Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters that missing persons are actually down so far in 2017. On average, 200 people are reported missing each month, and in 2017 there have only been 190.
This is cold comfort to activists, like Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, a group that campaigns to bring attention to the number of missing black children in the United States who make of 36.8% of all missing children.
“We also noticed that a lot of African American children that go missing are initially classified as runaways," said Wilson, "They do not get an Amber Alert or media coverage."
While it may be true that the media attention doesn't necessarily reflect an increased danger, there is a danger that was always present in the community. This sudden sense of crisis may have brought a much-needed awareness to the issue.
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