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The Expendables: The Social Media Debate Surrounding the Missing D.C. Girls

By Brian Richards | News Stories | March 28, 2017 |

By Brian Richards | News Stories | March 28, 2017 |

Back in 2009, I went to visit my cousins in the faraway land of Toronto, Ontario, Canada (home of Drake, Scott Pilgrim, and that show 1 Girl, 5 Gays that used to air on LOGO) in order to attend a wedding over the weekend. As I was talking to and hanging out with my youngest cousin, who I’ll just call K (and no, she’s not a member of the Men In Black), the topic of Chris Brown and Rihanna came up, which made sense considering that the incident in which Rihanna’s physical assault at the hands of Brown had recently happened. In short, K was a lot more forgiving of Chris Brown because of him being so good-looking, and able to sing well, and because he could dance. Which made me roll my eyes so hard that I had to ask K to fetch me a crowbar so I could pry them loose from my forehead. I responded that all of that didn’t matter because he attacked his girlfriend and expressed little to no remorse for it. I then asked her if she would be so forgiving of what Chris Brown had done if he was just a regular dude who worked as a teller down at ScotiaBank (for American readers who have never crossed the border and immediately went “Huh?!,” ScotiaBank is basically Canada’s version of Chase Bank) and wasn’t famous. And of course, K didn’t really have an answer to that and blew it off. (When I saw K again a couple of years later and the topic of Chris Brown came up, she pretty much indicated that she was no longer a fan or supporter of his. I don’t remember what else was said after that, but it probably had something to do with my surprise and amazement over the fact that milk in Canada is sold in bags. Or something.)

I say all of that because I’m once again reminded of how so many others, whether they’re part of the legal system or not, were and are willing to give a free pass to men who commit heinous acts just because they have a talent or skill that makes audiences go “Oooh!” and “Ahhh!” And also that the lives of women mean little to nothing to far too many of the men who reside on this planet. The most recent example of this being Brazilian football player Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who was offered a two-year contract to play for the Brazilian football organization Boa Esporte. Despite the fact that he was just released from jail on a technicality after only serving nearly four years of a twenty-two-year sentence for, along with his wife and several of his friends, murdering Eliza Samudio, his former girlfriend, and then dismembering her and feeding her remains to his pet Rottweilers in order to dispose of the evidence. His reason for doing this? Samudio had been demanding child support payments for their four-month-old son.

You would think that all of this would make a football organization, any football organization show disgust and anger toward de Souza and refuse to touch him with a 39 1/2-foot pole. But then again, we have our own football organization in this country that will welcome a player with open arms after he beats the living daylights out of his wife or girlfriend (unless it’s caught on camera and makes that organization look bad, and then they fire that player), and then turn around and refuse to piss on another player if he were on fire for having the audacity to speak out against police abuse and misconduct. So yeah, it didn’t take long for de Souza to be offered a two-year contract upon his release, despite numerous protestations from those who wondered how they’d feel if it were their daughters or their mothers who suffered the same fate as Samudio. Boa Esporte’s response to that, as is usually the response from men who don’t give anything resembling a shit about the overall well-being of women, regardless of who they are:

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Fans and sponsors of the Brazilian second-division side quickly denounced the move but so far Boa Esporte isn’t backing down. In a lengthy post on its Facebook page, Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, says the team isn’t committing any crimes by signing the 32-year-old who formerly played for one of Brazil’s most famous clubs — Flamengo — and was tipped to line up for the national team at the 2014 World Cup on home soil. He could be back in action within a month and a half.

“Esporte Clube was not responsible for the release and freedom of the athlete Bruno,” da Costa said, adding that the club was “giving work to those who intend to recover.”

Bruno “deserves a new opportunity as a professional,” the team said in a separate post. “The club has no relation with Bruno’s personal actions, nor with his past, having hired only the professional.”

And on to much happier and life-affirming news…This past month, many people on Twitter pointed out the increasing number of disappearances involving young Black and Latinx girls in the Washington, D.C. area and how there seemed to be nothing being done about it, along with the fact that such a large number of disappearances and possible kidnappings were receiving little to no news media coverage. (For a list of names and photos of many of the young girls who have been missing, read here.) Especially compared to the news media coverage being given to the all-important, time-consuming case of Tom Brady’s jersey going missing and having to be tracked down and retrieved outside of the United States. Yes, you did read that correctly.

The thought of so many young Black and Latinx girls going missing and possibly being led to unspeakable fates resulted in many a heated debate and conversation on Twitter…

There were those who found it downright hypocritical for Black and Latinx people to spend so many months criticizing police officers for their abuse and misconduct towards them, and then expect them to go out and find their kids. (Yes, it was from a real tweet and unless it was actually a troll/White supremacist using the Twitter avi of a Black person to conceal their identity, was a Black woman who actually said that.)

There were those who called that person out on her bullshit, and pretty much reminded her that 1) you pretty much have to be a fucking idiot to find something wrong in police officers having to be told to stop abusing and murdering Black people and 2) finding children and adults who have gone missing and are possibly being held in captivity is part of what police officers are paid and trained and expected to do.

There were those who saw this as another reason to call out White feminists on their supposed bullshit, considering that many of them just came from participating in the Women’s March on Washington and coming together in solidarity to stand up and speak out against those who do and would treat them as if they aren’t deserving of anything resembling respect. To let everyone know that their lives and their voices matter.

And yet…

And then there was this statement from the police in Washington, D.C. stating that many of the girls who have disappeared haven’t done so because of kidnapping and sex trafficking, they’ve disappeared because they’re runaways. Don’t bother asking how or why that’s supposed to be even more comforting or how this doesn’t come off at all like victim-blaming, but there it is.

The Washington D.C. girls who have gone missing are not crime victims … they’ve just fled their homes, according to Washington D.C. officials.

There’s been a call for an investigation into the disappearances, but a police spokesperson says the numbers are not alarming … they’re in line with missing persons stats.

There are currently 38 open cases of missing persons in D.C. We did some checking … 12 disappeared in the last 5 months. Nine of the girls are 18 or under. Ten are black and 2 Hispanic.

A police spokesperson says they believe all are runaways based on the circumstances of their disappearance, however, they say they cannot be certain.

The police and Mayor’s office tell TMZ, they handle thousands of missing persons cases every year, and virtually everyone is located.

We spoke with police Chief Peter Newsham who says with almost every case, those missing have a history of leaving home. He says the number missing is similar to years before, it’s just been brought to the light with the use of social media and other platforms to help locate missing people.
Newsham says his department’s goal is to get to the root of the problem to determine just what causes these kids to leave their homes.

There is so much more that needs to be said and discussed when it comes to this, but it’s obviously not about to be done in just this one post alone. Whether the attention that social media has brought to these young girls from Washington D.C. who keep disappearing will result in something being done to stop this and find out who or what is responsible are questions that have yet to be answered. All we can do is continue to hope and demand that young girls and women are given fewer reasons to worry about their overall well-being (especially in the D.C. area), all because everyone else around them sees how much they are continuously made to suffer and their only response continues to be:

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Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.