October 12, 2023
California Gov. Newsom signed a new law that will send alerts specifically for missing Black youths and women.
“The #EbonyAlert has been signed! Thank you, Gov. Newsom,” Vice Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Calif., tweeted Monday. “This law gives police a new tool to help bring home missing Black youth & Black women! It will also raise public awareness about the disproportionate numbers of Black missing persons.”
A press release on the senator’s website proclaimed that “California will become the first state to create an alert notification system to address the crisis of missing Black children and young Black women between the ages of 12 and 25.”
“Today, California is taking bold and needed action to locate missing Black children and Black women in California. I want to thank the Governor for signing the Ebony Alert into law,” Bradford himself said in the press release. “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. The Ebony Alert can change this.”
The press release also described how the Ebony Alert will actually be implemented.
“SB 673 authorizes a law enforcement agency to request that an Ebony Alert be activated by the California Highway Patrol if the investigating agency determines that it would be helpful. Similar to the Amber Alert, the Ebony Alert would activate electronic highway signs to alert the public of the missing person. Additionally, SB 673 also encourages television, cable, online, radio, and social media outlets to cooperate with disseminating the information contained in an Ebony Alert.”
The press release cited research from the Black and Missing Foundation claiming that American citizens that go missing are treated differently based on their race.
“According to the Black and Missing Foundation, 38% of children reported missing in the U.S. are Black. The U.S. population is 14% Black,” the press release wrote. “Black children are disproportionately classified as ‘runaways’ in comparison to white children who are classified as ‘missing.’ As a result, many Black children do not receive the Amber Alert or media attention highlighting that they are missing.”
NAACP California Hawaii State Conference President Rick L. Callender, whose organization sponsored the legislation, expressed high hopes for the new law.
“Today’s bill signing represents a historic breakthrough, guaranteeing that Black children and young Black women will receive the attention and protection they need when they are reported missing,” he wrote. “This is a great first step to mitigating the racial inequities when it comes to Black women and children when they go missing.”
Photo credit: Senator Steven Bradford IG