October 12, 2023
California is tackling racial disparities in missing-person cases with the nation’s first “Ebony Alert” system. A bill recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom authorizes law enforcement agencies to ask the California Highway Patrol to issue the alert when young Black people are reported missing, CNN reports. The system, a companion to the Amber Alert system, sets an age range between 12 and 25. State Sen. Steven Bradford, who sponsored the legislation, tells the Washington Post that the age range is intended to account for young Black women who are victims of sex trafficking.
“Our Black children and young women are disproportionately represented on the lists of missing persons. This is heartbreaking and painful for so many families and a public crisis for our entire state,” Bradford said in a statement. “The Ebony Alert can change this.” The Democrat said that according to the Black and Missing Foundation, Black people make up 14% of the population but 38% of children reported missing in the US are Black, and they are more likely than white children to be classed as “runaways” than “missing,” meaning their cases get less attention from the media. He tells the Post that he hopes other states will follow California’s lead.
The Ebony Alert system, like the Amber Alert system, will use highway signs and encourage the use of TV, radio, and social media to find missing people, NBC Los Angeles reports. California also has a Feather Alert system for missing Indigenous people and a Silver Alert system for missing people over 65.
Photo credit: Newser