False D.C. disappearances sheds light on larger issues

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By Tatiana Rodriguez, Columnist

The image that started it all contained startling information that went viral: 14 girls had disappeared from Washington D.C. in a period of 24 hours.

Social media was abuzz last week with images and hashtags regarding an alleged spike in missing brown and black girls in D.C.

However, it just wasn’t true.

D.C. police denied this claim and cleared up not only the allegations that black and brown girls are disappearing at alarming rates but that the police are doing little to nothing to find them.

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    Apparently, the rate of missing minors in D.C. has decreased within the past year. Also, D.C. police have been able to solve all but a few cases of missing youth.

    As for the images that have been spread across Twitter, many of them include faces of girls who have been found, are from different states or have been missing for years.

    While the information being shared was ultimately false, the fact that the public could believe that black and brown girls could go missing without any media attention shows the lack of trust in law enforcement.

    Even though 14 girls did not go missing in a single day, there have been many cases of black and brown girls going missing in D.C. without immediate concern.

    According to a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey, Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond and D.C. Congressional representative Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, “(t)en children of color went missing in our nation’s capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention.”

    Recently, the D.C. police have been more active on Twitter by publicizing the cases of missing black and brown children in order to remedy this issue.

    Additionally, many of the girls who have been reported as missing aren’t being taken but are repeat runaways, according to Kevin Harris, a spokesman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

    This reflects another pressing issue of how the environments that young black and brown girls are living in are causing them to run away.

    “If we really want to help solve this problem and bring down the numbers, we have to break the cycle of young people, especially young girls, who repeatedly run away from home,” Harris said.

    Though the viral tweets and images about missing brown and black girls in D.C. were fabricated, the premise surrounding its creation reflects problems that are sadly all too real.

    Though the intentions of the people who believed the information were not initially wrong for doing so, it is important for the public to realize that if they truly do care about the lives of young black and brown girls, they should stick to the facts.

    While this hoax was primarily just that, it has opened up the eyes of the public and of law enforcement. While it would be much more productive to stick to facts when finding missing children, perhaps a wake-up call was needed.

    Tatiana is a freshman in Media.

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