Marche Black & Joseph Kasko
(Buffalo, N.Y.) – Last month, a story about “missing black and latino girls” from Washington, D.C. went viral across social media with the hashtag #missingdcgirls, which resulted in thousands of tweets and shares.
Celebrities like LL Cool J shared the story, which sparked outrage that there was no media coverage.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus even called for a federal investigation in a letter sent March 21 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey.
The letter asked to “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,” CNN reported.
However, the story wasn’t true.
NBC Washington reported that there have 501 missing children cases in 2017 and that all but 22 of those had been resolved as of March 24.
D.C. police officials said many of the claims floating around the Internet weren’t true, including a Twitter post from March 23 that claimed “14 girls have gone missing in DC in the last 24 hours.”
Although the story was false, it may have sparked an interesting conversation about race.
Symone Campell, president of the Buffalo State chapter of the NAACP, appeared on the Buffalo Review to talk about the story.
Campbell said she believes so many people believed the story and shared it, because there is a perception that people of color are treated differently by law enforcement and the media.
“The fact that there’s no amber alert or any kind of media coverage, I think this is probably going to put more light onto these stories and missing girls in the future,” said Campbell.
Since March 21, when the story went viral, D.C. Police have sent more than 50 tweets concerning missing people and most of those have been minors, which may be a result of the attention this story received.
Additionally, BuzzFeed reported the number of tweets may have caused people to think the number of missing people had increased, but police told NBC Washington they were simply posting the missing person flyers on Twitter in hopes of finding them faster.
The D.C. police Twitter feed also posts updates when missing people are located.
Nevertheless, this story has made it clear there is fear in the black and Latino communities about missing people of color receiving different treatment.
Campbell said she hoped this story and the discussions surrounding it could shed more light on this issue and lead to positive outcomes.
* Makera Fuller contributed to this report.