Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. The caucus, created by Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), was the first of its kind, with the main goal of creating public policy that “eliminates significant barriers and disparities experienced by black women.” And on Wednesday, 20 congresswomen made the missing Washington, D.C., teens one of their priorities.
“We don’t want to just talk about the problems; we want to think about the solutions,” Rep. Kelly said Wednesday during a town hall, according to CNN.
The town hall included local law enforcement, activists, political leaders and community members. But the law-enforcement members involved wanted to dispel rumors that there’s an uptick in missing-people cases in D.C.
But even if that’s the case, members of the caucus said that they want more federal assistance when it comes to the missing.
“I feel like knocking on every attic, every garage to see where those girls are,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “Let’s be an example to the world that we can’t rest until these girls are found.”
Other attendees spoke about the need for people to be more versed in signs of sex trafficking and how not all of the girls who’ve gone missing are from broken homes.
“There are parks. There are malls. There are recreation centers,” said Stephanie Cooney, a legal fellow with the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “Traffickers know where minors frequent. They know where to meet them. They know where to talk to them. They can very well be your community members.”
In March, when the cases of several of D.C.’s missing went viral, law-enforcement officials tried to dispel the fact that there was an uptick in cases and said that those who were missing were brought into the spotlight because of the Metropolitan (D.C.) Police Department’s use of social media.
“Actually, it’s a decrease. But when we talk about numbers, I’m not trying to minimize when I say there’s not an uptick or there’s been a decrease,” D.C. Police Youth and Family Services Commander Chanel Dickerson said, according to WJLA. “It’s just that we wanted to be transparent and input it out so everyone can see.”
According to the Black and Missing Foundation, 37 percent of missing people in the United States are minorities.