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Media, police should treat all missing cases same

On April 17, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (April 13, 2017) – Many people countrywide are outraged about the alarming number of missing black and brown girls in the Washington, D.C., area and are starting to question why they aren’t receiving much news coverage.

The constant tweets from the Metropolitan Police Department about girl after girl missing prompted many to be alarmed and question what officials are doing to find these girls and bring them back home.

Some Twitter users (@marvelbarbiegirl, an influential twitter user) began to tweet about the number of girls missing, and the messages went viral. People from all over joined the conversation about the missing girls and why news of their disappearance has not received the same amount of news coverage as would that of a white child when one goes missing.

There’s no secret that black or brown children who disappear more often than not are labeled as runaways. Therefore, these children don’t prompt “Amber Alerts.”

The hashtag #missingdcgirls was created in March to bring awareness to the situation.

Despite the number of girls currently missing in Washington D.C., officials say this is not out of the norm.

The Metropolitan Police Department recently started sending out tweets about missing persons, which caused the initial alarm about the missing girls. Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said missing person reports are down so far in 2017. From 2012 to 2016, officials said 99 percent of all missing person cases have been closed. Out of those 19,000 cases, only 16 remain open.

Even though one child missing is already too many, the problem isn’t the number of missing children, it’s the lack of equal investigation.

There should be no difference in the treatment of anyone, especially children, when it comes to the police investigating and using all the necessary tools to find someone. A lot of the missing D.C. girls are overlooked because they come from bad neighborhoods and low-income housing. Instead of immediately treating them as a true abduction or potential Amber Alerts, officials just write them off as runaways because they say there is no evidence that leads them to believe otherwise. This is unfair and definitely not what America should aspire to.  All resources should be equally available to all families no matter your skin color, neighborhood, income, religion or etc. We can’t pledge and honor equality if it is not really so. 

News coverage, or the lack there of, caused a lot of outrage as well.

At the beginning of March when tweets first started going out, big news stations weren’t picking up the story. As the public began to questions these outlets more and more, some began to cover the news story. Major news outlets such as Time and the Washington Post published stories about the missing girls, although their stories were more about it not being spike in numbers rather than the real issues at hand.

The lack of news coverage also left others to questions if the results would have been the same if the same amount of white children went missing in the same time frame. On average, you see more news and media coverage when they go missing than black or brown children.

We, the Courtbouillon staff, call for equal protection and recovery resources for all children. We decry discrimination when it comes to police protection media coverage.

(Managing Editor Rolanda Joubert wrote this editorial on behalf of the Courtbouillon staff.)

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