April 9, 2017
Sixty four thousand. That’s how many girls and young women have gone missing nationwide since 2015. It’s enough to fill every seat in Yankee Stadium, and then some. Why isn’t this astonishing figure more widely known? There’s no simple answer, but according to #BLMNY, the ethnicity of these girls is definitely a factor. Specifically, Council Member Andy King said that while black females comprise just seven percent of the overall population, they make up thirty five percent of these missing young women.
Several hundred people gathered in lower Manhattan today to urge police, elected officials, and community members to face up to this issue. Speakers called on police to pursue these cases more vigorously and elected officials to update relevant laws. Community activist and lawyer Jorge Vasquez said that the pimps responsible for this type of human trafficking are typically not charged as sex offenders. That means that they’re able to lurk around schools and playgrounds to recruit young girls. In contrast, Vasquez noted, in some cases people convicted of public urination are tagged as sex offenders. He’s calling for a change in the law to address this disparity.
Trafficking survivor Toni D. said she was recruited by her pimp when she left home to attend college in Columbia, SC. She shared that she helped recruit other girls during her seven year association with him and warned parents to “talk to your children before they go off to college, because someone like me will take them.”
Following a series of speeches by political and community leaders, the group mobilized for a march that headed up Broadway towards the finish line in Harlem. But before setting off on their long trek, they paused briefly at the recently installed sculpture “Fearless Girl” where they chanted, “Black lives matter/All lives matter” for several minutes.
Then, accompanied by a large number of NYPD officers, they marched through the canyon en route to Marcus Garvey Park uptown.