Black lawmakers have written a letter asking the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate the perception that the number of missing black girls in Washington, D.C., is exploding.
Congressional Black Caucus chairman Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond wrote a letter Tuesday, obtained by The Associated Press, urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to investigate the issue to see whether the 501 cases of missing teenagers in 2017 alone represents a disturbing trend or an irregularity.
Out of the 501 cases, 22 have not been solved.
Richmond wants a meeting with Sessions, but so far hasn’t managed to get one scheduled.
“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 wrote in the letter along with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who provides D.C. with representation in Congress.
Although lawmakers are concerned about the recent cases of missing juveniles, Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid told The Associated Press that there isn’t actually a change in the trend at all. Rather, the police department has just been more aggressive in posting about the cases on social media, leading to the impression that there’s been a strong increase, compared to previous years.
In reality, police said that the number is actually down from 2015 to 2016. The number of cases decreased from 2,433 to 2,242 in 2016.
Still, increased social media attention has reinvigorated concern among the black community. Washington, D.C. is about 48 percent black.
Meanwhile, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham have downplayed the theory that the spate of missing girls in D.C. is due to human trafficking.
According to Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, 36.8 percent of missing children in the United States are black.
“We also noticed that a lot of African American children that go missing are initially classified as runaways,” Wilson, said. “They do not get an Amber Alert or media coverage.”
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