Exclusive: Calls for an investigation ignite after Black woman's account of attempted hotel break-in goes viral
Maya Angelique's story of an attempted break-in into a DC hotel inspires other women to share their experiences. Robin Gentry
Maya Angelique shared the story of an attempted break-in to a DC hotel on a viral thread.
Since then, several women have come forward and shared their experiences at the same Cambria hotel.
Now thousands are calling for an investigation into possible human trafficking.
Thousands are calling for an investigation into possible human trafficking at a Washington, DC hotel after a guest alleged a man attempted to break into their hotel room during a recent stay.
In a viral Twitter thread, the woman, who goes by the name Maya Angelique on Twitter, reportedly checked into the Cambria Hotel on Q Street in DC on Saturday, October 9th.
She wrote that she was showering around 1:30 am when a man "tried to break into my room by force".
"He somehow had a KEY to open my door," wrote Maya Angelique on Twitter. "He successfully opened my room door, hit the doorstop repeatedly and yelled 'open the damn door, let me in." "
In response to the viral thread, Philomena Wankenge, co-founder of Freedom Fighters DC, an advocacy group dedicated to prosecuting justice for the residents of Black DC, created a petition calling for continued public attention and an investigation into whether it's "what." appears to be "there is a sophisticated human trafficking operation."
Wankenge told Insider that she "started the petition because, even in our own community, few people pay attention to human trafficking."
"It's real and it's scary out here and that needs to be taken care of," she said.
The petition, which was signed by just under 15,000 people by Friday, goes back to reports that were soon followed by other users with similar experiences or testimony.
Angelique said on Twitter that the man ran away, after which she called the front desk. She claimed they told her the man was doing the housekeeping.
Angelique continued on Twitter that she did not believe this guard and called her reaction "very much like she was fully aware of what was happening and she did not expect to be caught".
Maya Angelique did not respond to insider requests for comment.
However, she noted online that she immediately felt uncomfortable entering the hotel after witnessing several men watching her outside.
Angelique wrote that the alleged incident in which a man tried to break into her room only made her feel more unsafe, calling DC "one of the leading human trafficking cities in the country".
The Cambria Hotel on Q Street did not respond to insider requests for comment.
Choice Hotels International, which claims Cambria Hotels as part of its portfolio, said in a statement emailed to Insider that the hotel has "conducted a full review and investigation of the incident," despite not describing what information was involved in the investigation revealed.
If black women are stolen from a place that's supposed to be safe, it isn't enough that people care, then what?
"We have been trying repeatedly to reach the guest since last week and, out of respect for the privacy of the guest, will not publicly share the details of what the hotel has learned until we are able to," wrote Choice Hotels International.
Although Choice Hotels International did not provide details of its findings, it claimed that "on the basis of the initial results it can confirm that there was no criminal or illegal activity related to the incident".
Meanwhile, Wankenge said blacks in DC were "on the verge" after hearing the story.
"If black women are stolen from a place that's supposed to be safe, it's not enough for people to care, what then?" said Wankenge. "What do we do?"
Hotels can be common sex trafficking venues
As Maya Angelique wrote in the thread, sex trafficking is a major issue in Washington DC.
According to the Human Trafficking Institute, a research organization committed to ending this form of sexual exploitation and violence, there were 33 active human trafficking cases in the DC region in 2020.
That number is likely to be outnumbered as many of these cases go unreported, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Although sexual violence affects people of all races, black girls and women are particularly at risk. A report by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation found that 40% of victims of sex trafficking are black women.
"Hypersexualization" and the treatment of black girls and women as older than themselves contribute to increased violence against them, according to The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community.
The center, which provides resources for women facing sexual and domestic violence, reports that one in four black girls is sexually abused before the age of 18 and one in five black women has survived rape.
Hotels can be frequent sex trafficking venues, in part because "traffickers often take advantage of the privacy and anonymity available through the hospitality industry," according to the Department of Homeland Security.
"We see hotels involved in these criminal cases in patterns of fact that are much more common than defendants," Alyssa Wheeler, associate legal counsel at the Human Rights Institute, told Insider.
Wheeler added that since 2019 the institute has seen a "dramatic increase" in sex trafficking victims suing hotels in civil matters for "facilitating human trafficking and conducting it on their premises."
Last year a plaintiff named S.Y. Lawsuit Against Choice Hotels, Inc.
S.Y., a victim of sex trafficking, alleged that employees of a Comfort Inn Florida hotel "failed to prevent and / or take steps to prevent this sexual violence."
The proceedings are still ongoing.
Other women share their experiences and raise awareness.
Maya Angelique's Twitter thread prompted others to share similar stories while staying at hotels across the country.
Twitter users pointed to the review of a man who wrote that he and his wife saw "a girl with no shoes or belongings dragged unconscious into the elevator" in the same location in Cambria.
A woman shared a picture of an alleged receipt from the hotel bar that had the phrase "girl alone" next to her drink order.
Many interpreted the receipt as a way for the hotel to approach single girls.
Women, in particular, step forward and speak out to validate the experiences that until recently they did not know they were sharing.
Another woman, K, * said that while she was staying at the Cambria Hotel the week before Angelique's alleged incident, a man tried to break into her fiance and her hotel room.
As a woman, and especially as a black, you always think about how you could be kidnapped
K., who asked Insiders not to publish her full name for privacy reasons, said it was only after reading Angelique's experience that she began to believe that she was "lucky nothing happened to me."
"I had to think about how many times I was alone in the hotel and what could have happened if I had been alone in the room in the shower when the person who said she was the housekeeper showed up in the middle of the night." said Insider.
"As a woman, and especially as a black, you always think about how to get kidnapped," she added.
K. repeated what experts often notice. When black women are missing, their cases are often "not reported or under-reported". She warns, "That makes them a target for people who want to do malicious things and think nobody cares."
Angelique said on Twitter the experience was "triggering," especially since she knows people who have been sex trafficked and because she has received death threats since the alleged incident was published.
Its thread has awakened new caution among women, especially those traveling alone. Many share links to doorstops and other safety devices, and urge women to take extra precautions wherever they go.
"Maya's story made me realize that it could possibly have been a lot worse than I could have imagined," said K ..
“The first night I got there, I didn't put the plug on the door. I'll never wait to put the plug back on, ”she added.
Wankenge said she hoped Maya Angelique's story would not only lead to an investigation at Cambria and other hotels, but also lead to continued efforts to fight the sex trafficking.
"We're covered. It's a story, but there's no kind of follow-up after that," said Wankenge. "There is no kind of law or advocacy, not even from our own leaders and communities, beyond grassroots organizations."
Read the original article on Insider
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