Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation and TV One to focus on the crisis of missing African Americans.
To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile a missing person weekly and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing, while TV One‘s newest show, “Find Our Missing,” hosted by award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson, tells these stories in visual form.
Police thought they found Avonte, 14, in East Harlem at 3:25 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and announced the news to his family and the media — but police soon discovered that they had found a different missing boy.
“It’s been a roller coaster – a bad roller coaster – but we’re still staying positive,” Avonte’s father told CBS News.
Avonte has been missing from his school in Long Island City since last Friday.
The teen is mute and autistic and is supposed to be monitored at all times by school staff.
“It hurts because you do want things to end, but somebody’s child was found — just not ours — but we’ll continue to pray and look,” sad Avonte’s brother Daniel Oquendo.
Video from the school shows the teen running out of an unguarded door. Avonte was supposed to have one-on-one supervision at all times. Department of Education officials have yet to explain why Avonte was able to leave the school.
Despite the case of mistaken identity, police have been searching intensely for Avonte. Police cut power briefly two to Queens subway lines so that they could search the tunnels for Avonte. According to his family, the teen has an affinity for trains.
Police have also used dogs to trace Avonte’s scent and have also searched the East River.
“We deployed the bloodhounds there. We were able to trace the young person to a subway station, and we have not been able to confirm that it’s him,” said police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference.
Daniel Oquendo and his family said they will continue to look for his brother.
“Anyone out there, any borough in New York City, if you see this child please, please, please have compassion, and please just call the police and say, ‘I’ve seen him,’” Avonte’s mother Vanessa Fontaine, told NBC New York.
Avonte is described as being 5’3″ tall and weighing 125 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans, and black sneakers.
Anyone with information may contact the NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. Tips can also be texted to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. Information can also be sent to the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line.